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Psalm 40- A Prayer
“Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:3b, New International Version).
Over the past few months, it is no surprise to anyone that I’ve been battling quite severe anxiety and depression. I am not the best at hiding my struggles, but I am a Queen at being an open book.
It has taken me a long time, but I am no longer ashamed of my struggles. I am not afraid to write that I am not okay because I know it is the power of Christ within me that strengthens me from weak and weary to strong and renewed.
The Psalmist of Psalm 40, I imagine, felt very similar.
“Lord, in my place of weakness and need, I ask again: Will you come and help me? I know I am always in your thoughts. You are my true Savior and hero, so don’t delay to deliver me now, for you are my God” (Psalm 40:17, The Passion Translation).
While I have been waiting patiently (or trying) on God to deliver me from these struggles, I have realized a few things.
- I often try too hard to “fix myself” when what I need to do is abide and rest in Him (AKA, let Him do the work in me He says He will do).
- I must learn to rejoice in the sorrow and hardships, for praise is the password to joy.
- I need to realize that at the end of the day, mental health issues are just that, mental health issues. Mental health issues are not who I am but what I am struggling with during this given season.
As you read through this Psalm with me, I encourage you to pause for your own reflections and see how God is speaking to you. These are just snippets of my heart, but my prayer is that it helps you feel less alone in whatever your struggle might be today.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:1-2, New International Version).
Even amid the waiting (patient or not), I know that God hears me even and especially when it feels like He does not. He has lifted me out of this sinking pit that never seems to end. And when He pulls me from the quicksand, He sets me on a firm and solid place to stand.
Fat Man Squeeze
In the sixth grade, I remember going to a three-day overnight camp. From snacks, campfires, and singing silly songs to cleaning, cooking, and exploring, I recall the day we walked through a slimy pit of our own. Coined the term “Fat Man Squeeze” for its tight enclosure and muddy walls, we made it halfway as a group only to have to go back through it backward because a fellow peer was too scared.
While it was all fun and games at the time, I can only imagine the relief one would feel after the struggle of mud and quicksand lasted for a time. It is a fight to try and claw your way out once you’re in so deep. Utterly exhausted was how I felt by the time we made it back out of the slippery cave.
Today, I no longer find myself stuck in “Fat Man Squeezes,” but I do know what it is like to fight sticky thoughts and anxieties in my mind to know relief would be admirable. The same principle applies when fighting anxiety, depression, or any mental health struggle for an extended period.
You quickly grow weak, weary, and exhausted because any stamina you once built up has long worn off. We are trying to claw our way out, but the stairs seem too steep and the mud feels like an avalanche around our soles.
Yet, even amid and from within the mud, I am confident that God will deliver. And why? Because He continually gives me a new song to sing, and I will still praise Him.
“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare” (Psalm 40:3-5, New International Version).
Because of the miraculous things God has done in me and will continue to do, we will always have a reason to give Him praise.
He will pick us up from the mud.
He will place us on solid rock.
He will give us firm footing.
And many will see and fear God enough to trust Him.
We Cannot Trust Fear
Today, we cannot trust fear because it is a Liar and comes from the Father of Lies himself, Satan.
John 8:44 of the Message reminds us of this truth: “You’re from your father, the Devil, and all you want to do is please him. He was a killer from the very start. He couldn’t stand the truth because there wasn’t a shred of truth in him. When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies” (John 8:44, The Message Version).
But when people see God and how He has rescued and continually rescued us in our lowly estates, humanity, including myself, will learn to trust God alone.
The only thing we should fear is not fear itself, but Christ alone, in whom our hope is found. Fear is not of or from God because God is love, and perfect love casts out fear. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18, New International Version).
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—but my ears you have opened—burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:6-8, New International Version).
Though I hate going through this phase of bouts with anxiety and depression, and would not wish it upon anyone, I know that if someone decides to trust God because of how they have seen Him work in and deliver me, it will all be worth it.
Blessed are we who trust God and not fear, or anything that offers us false security. Sure, counseling, medication, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and techniques can and have radically transformed my life, but so has Jesus. These things help, and while I highly recommend each of them, above all, I also trust Christ to work through and in those things. He is the cure society is searching for and rarely finds.
It is because of Him that I have a wonderful counselor, therapy protocols to calm my anxious states, and people to lean on.
It is because of Him that these helpmates even exist.
But without Him, I would have nothing at all.
Because the plans my God has for me are wonders I cannot even imagine. They are good, light, hopeful, and serene. Certainly not fear.
But even as I continue to fight off fear, I declare these truths over me, and encourage you to do the same:
-I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).
-When I am weak, then I am strong. Your power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
-God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).
-Jesus does not desire sacrifices, offerings, and legalistic ways, but He wants us as we are. He only ever wanted our entire heart (Psalm 51:16).
In the Face of Fear
In the face of fear, it is my prayer that we say, “God, here I am.” I desire to do your will. Your words, I will continue to write on my heart. I belong to you. You are the only one I need to fear, and nothing, not even fear can separate me from your love, and the love you have for me. I will not forget these truths but write them in my heart. Bind them to me continually. Let me never forget that your love supersedes every fear. We love you, and you are far greater than our greatest fear.
“I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, Lord, as you know. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly. Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me” (Psalm 40:9-12, New International Version).
As we trust in God and the measures of healing He has bestowed upon us, it is evident that we will still experience chaos. Chaos is a part of humanity.
Yet even in the disorder, I will not remain in fear. I will share your righteousness with others. What you have written on heart, I will boldly proclaim to the nations and those in need of hearing your word. As I fight this battle, Lord, protect and fight for me. This is my prayer.
“So Lord, don’t hold back your love or withhold your tender mercies from me. Keep me in your truth and let your compassion overflow to me no matter what I face. Evil surrounds me; problems greater than I can solve come one after another. Without you, I know I can’t make it. My sins are so many! I’m so ashamed to lift my face to you. For my guilt grabs me and stings my soul until I am weakened and spent”(Psalm 40:11-12, The Passion Translation).
Though I know David speaks from a place of sin, and I believe my struggle of anxiety is not a sin, but a result of living in a fallen world and the environment/experiences I’ve gone through, his prayer still matches the intentions of my heart.
A Closing Prayer
Lord, do not hide your face or presence from me. The only things I want in my mind are your love and truth. These things will protect me, and I will meditate on them. I will fix my eyes on you. Your truth is love, and your love is true. My troubles may surround me. I acknowledge they will and are. More than I can count. More than I can see past. My heart has and grows heavy. But, my God will save me. He will come quickly. And those who seek to destroy me, including fear, have already been defeated by He who lives within me and was resurrected from the grave. They will not stand. My hope will rise. Because I seek you and will be glad in you. You are my help, and will not delay.
“Be pleased to save me, Lord; come quickly, Lord, to help me. May all who want to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” be appalled at their own shame. But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say,“The Lord is great!” But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay” (Psalm 40:13-17, New International Version).
Maybe, dear reader, you can relate?
I have fear, yet I rejoice in you (God). And though I rejoice in you, I still acknowledge that I need your help. This is my surrender. My SOS. My God, do not delay.