Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Week Fourteen - The Comforter

Beside the Well
            There was a little saying when I was a child, “Smarty, Smarty, had a party, No one was there but Smarty, Smarty.”  I think of that little quip whenever I find myself in the throes of a pity party.  Me? Yep, me!  I can have a real pity party sometimes. 
            My feelings get hurt.  I am disappointed.  Or, I feel overstretched and out of control.  I know what deep depression is like as well, but praise the Lord He brought me through.  Still, sometimes, I can get too self-focused and find myself languishing emotionally. 
            Right in the middle of enjoying “it’s my party so I’ll cry if I want to” God stopped dead me at a phrase in Psalm 77, “my soul refused to be comforted.” Let me share what God taught me.
Psalm 77:1-4 reads:
I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.
In the day of my trouble I sought the LORD; my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted. 
I remembered God, and was troubled:  I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed.
Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak. Selah.”
            Here is a really good description of a pity party.  Complaining and feeling overwhelmed.  Crying in the night.  Refusing to be comforted.  Like Jacob at the loss of Joseph (Genesis 37:35), we decide to be depressed, to live life mournfully, to look down and be overwhelmed.  Our constant language is based around, “Oh, woe is me.”
            The pity party leaves us troubled and searching for answers, which the psalmist describes in verses 5-9:
“I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.
I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.
Will the LORD cast off for ever? And will he be favourable no more?
Is his mercy clean gone for ever?  Doth his promise fail for ever more?
Hath God forgotten to be gracious?  Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?  Selah? “
            Do you hear it? “O, woe is me. I used to be happy.  I used to sing, but I have been abandoned.  I’m all alone.  No one understands or cares.  Even God has forgotten about me.”
            After his search, he made a conscious decision in verses 10-12:
And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.
I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.
I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”
            To end the pity party the psalmist needed to look straight at the infirmity and call it what it was—stubbornness and pride.  So do I.  No need making excuses.  I must stop right where I am and not refuse to be comforted. 
            God is trying to comfort me with His word.  He is calling out to my spirit.  As His child I can obediently do the things mentioned.  I can choose to remember, meditate, and talk about the Lord knowing my behaviour, actions and speech will change as I obey. Or, I can continue to pout and stomp and whine and cry.  The choice is mine.
            The remaining verses of Psalm 77 are a testament to the fact that God is the only one strong enough for me to rely on.  He is the source of encouragement.  You might like to read Psalm 142 as well, for there again David breaks free from another pity party stating, “Though art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living” (Psalm 142:5).
            I, however, am not the source of my encouragement.  Inward reflection produces loathing.   God spoke through Ezekiel saying, “and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. (Exe. 36:31).  The Apostle Paul wrote, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18).  The pity party is such a waste of effort.  We will never find the answers inside ourselves.
            I must look to God for the help I need.  O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 7:24-25).
            Refusing to be comforted is like throwing God’s goodness and care back in his face.  It is saying we would rather stubbornly languish in our pity than give up our self-focus and humbly yield to God’s omnipotence and love.
            Why do we refuse to be comforted?  Because we are stubborn and prideful.  O wretched people that we are, so small minded, so full of our puny selves, while God stands with an immense amount of mercy and love ready to lift us up and establish our goings.
            Gail, let the Comforter be your comfort!


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