I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling;
I will walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
I believed, even when I spoke:
“I am greatly afflicted”;
I said in my alarm,
“All mankind are liars.”
What shall I render to the Lord
for all his benefits to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord,
I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
Real Truths from a Real God
There are times in our lives when we are face to face with the hard truth. Think of the grade you get back on a quiz you weren’t prepared for. Think of your parents catching you in a lie you knew was wrong from the start. Think of your coach making you run extra laps because you failed to put forth the effort you know you should have during practice.
It is in those places of hardship that we often find we are “most real.” We are raw and full of emotion. We can’t hide behind pretending that we have it all together. And we often feel, in those real, raw moments, that no one wants to hear from us.
In Psalm 116, we hear the plea of a person being very real with God. They were in distress, in anguish, crying, stumbling, afflicted, alarmed and feeling near death. Perhaps you can relate? Maybe you haven’t cried over a test, but maybe you have cried over a friendship that turned sour. Maybe you haven’t felt afflicted during practice, but maybe you have felt afflicted when it seems your family is falling apart. Maybe your anguish seems to come from outside of yourself; maybe it seems to come from inside of yourself.
The good news is that we don’t have to hide those things from God! The good news is that we can bring all of our real-ness—all of our hurts and pains, all of the scary stuff of our hearts—before God… and He hears us!
He listens to us. He turns His ear toward us. He preserves us. He delivers us. He saves us. He even deals bountifully with us. He promises us life eternal in His very presence! He is our Real. Present. God. All of the “hard truth” moments that we have to go through in this life pale when we pause and remember the loving way that the Almighty God—the maker of creation—hears us and cares for us.
And our heart’s response is the sweetest thing: we can speak the first verse of this psalm with confidence. “I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.”
Say your prayers out loud this week, as if God was physically in the room listening to you, and keep them as raw as you can. Remember that He inclines His ear to hear you when you talk to Him, and He has the power to act on your behalf.
Jesus, I find it hard to believe that You want to listen to the real me. Help me believe You. Help me to live today in the grace of Your love. Amen.