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When We Feel Overwhelmed

July 9th, 2013

So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.

Psalm 143:4

Life is not always fun and games. Often we have times of deep sorrow. David wrote these words probably in the low moments of him running before his own son’s rebellion against him. Absalom had taken the throne and was in pursuit of his own father to have him killed. David and his loyal men escaped the wrath of Absalom, but just barely. And as he had done under Saul, he resorted again to hiding out in caves.

But the condition of his heart is what interests us here. He cried that his spirit had grown faint – that is, he had lost the will to fight. Only God’s strength could sustain him. His heart was dismayed, or desolate, meaning that he felt utterly and entirely alone. During moments of despair and sadness we can feel that God is absent entirely from our world, and it is then we must stand by faith in His Word that He is not absent, but He is just as surely there in our weakened and desolate condition as He was at our moments of joy. Faith and grace enable us to go where we could not go, enable us to stand when we could not stand, and enable us to rise when it seems we are utterly defeated.

David knew too well his own failings, and earlier in this psalm he prayed, “do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you” (143:2). He begged that God would see him through the eyes of mercy, and for us who see the completed work of redemption in Christ, we can with confidence understand how God might see us in grace rather than in judgment. Even in our failure – and not all sorrow is due to our failure, much is not – we have the grace of God to comfort us. Even when we have contributed to our sorrows, we have the cross of Christ and the Christ of the cross that assure us of our forgiveness and redemption.

When our spirit is faint, when we feel overwhelmed by circumstances, David sets before us a wonderful truth. Faith can continue to call on God and receive His help and His grace even when we feel nothing at all. The day will come, in God’s good grace, when our sense of His presence will be renewed, when we are able to rejoice and thank God for His companionship, but until that day we may still walk by faith in His promises.

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