Quit Being So Hard on Yourself

In Psalm 143 we find David crushed in spirit, deep in despair, and hurting terribly.

It’s so encouraging to know the Holy Spirit wanted the journal of David’s psalms in the Bible. The inclusion of his psalms of heartache lets us know that often inner sorrow takes a long time to fight, that healing processes do not necessarily happen overnight. When your own recovery drags out over an extended time, you are tempted to think that God has forsaken you, that you are a spiritual abnormality.

Be encouraged. You’re as normal as one of God’s great (and very flawed) saints: David. Quit being so hard on yourself. God is not down on you because your progress is slow.

My plea

David never stands on his own accomplishments or personal merit as a basis for seeking or deserving God’s help. If God helps at all, it’s mercy undeserved. It’s not your faithfulness or righteousness which clasps you to the Lord; it is His.

Who can ever pass God’s inspection (v. 2)? David knows better than to offer himself as a “yes” to that question. It’s, therefore, a comfort to know you are not alone in this matter of unrighteousness. If all are unrighteous before Him, then you have as good a chance as anyone else for His mercy.

David banks on his cry for mercy being heard because God is faithful and righteous (v. 1). His righteousness insures He will be faithful; and His faithfulness insures He will be righteous.

My plight

Enemies pressured David. Notice the effect of such external hounding:

You are reduced as a person. To be crushed (v. 3) means to be compacted. Your self-worth is minimized. You don’t feel like a whole person. The crushing David speaks of is “to the ground.” You’ve never felt so little.

You do not understand. How could this have ever happened to you? You “dwell in darkness” (v. 3). Darkness serves as a metaphor for lack of illumination. The nighttime of the soul brings the despair of unanswered questions.

Your “spark” is gone. David describes it as “my spirit grows faint within me and my heart . . . is dismayed” (v. 4). You feel an overall numbness, weariness, and brokenness.

The turning point comes as you consciously begin to reflect on who God is and what His works are (v. 5). Remember how God has helped you in the past, and how He acts to save His people.

David reaches only to the Lord for satisfying his deepest needs, describing his soul as thirsting “for you like a parched land” (v. 6). When your inner life is cracked and dry, it’s time to lift your hands in supplication and surrender. “Lord, please send Your rain upon my parched spirit.”

My petitions

David’s desire for a speedy answer stems from his concern that he cannot hold out much longer (v. 7). Unless God acts, he’s headed for the pit (v. 8).

Your prayers will shape your behavior. If you ask for God’s unfailing love in the morning (v. 8), will you become a loving person the rest of the day? If you ask the Lord to show you the way you should go (v. 8), will you then go in that direction? If you ask Him to rescue you (v. 9), will you then hide yourself in Him? If you ask the Lord to teach you His will (v. 10), will you then do it? If you ask the Good Shepherd to lead you (v. 10), will you then walk on “level ground” rather than the roller coaster where your feelings dominate over your faith?

What great petitions!

Show me . . . Rescue me . . . Teach me . . . Lead me . . . These are the prayers of a person who wants to live!

How about you? Have you felt like giving up? Perhaps you have even entertained thoughts of self-destruction. You need the closing words of this psalm: a desire for the Lord to preserve your life (v. 11), and to destroy what’s destroying you (v. 12).

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