When I first recognized that the Psalms were not nearly as “tidy” as I’d imagined—but were immensely human and raw—it opened up new ways for me to encounter God. While the Psalms provide us with words to express robust conviction, they also give us words—and permission—to express our doubts. When a child dies or a parent leaves or God seems a million miles away, the Psalms teach us how to gather our fears (not ignore them) and carry them to God.
The opening line of Psalm 25 exudes confidence: “O Lord, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God!” (Psalm 25:1). This psalm is a prayer, with lines addressed directly to the Creator of the universe. Here David casts his every hope on God. He hands over his life to Him, without hesitation. He trusts in God without reservation.
In the very next breath, however, his resolve falters. “Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat,” David prays (Psalm 25:2). Then, only a few lines later: “Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love” (Psalm 25:6). We hear the ache in his trembling voice: Don’t forget Your kindness, God. Don’t forget Your love. Don’t forget me.
In times of trouble, all of our doubts concerning God’s power and goodness invade our wilting heart. Like the psalmist, we fear that maybe God will allow us to drown in shame, maybe God will allow our enemies to get away with evil, maybe God willrefuse to enact justice, maybe God will forget grace and love.
Overwhelmed by these fears, the psalmist didn’t deny them but rather took them to God. He prayed. The problem with our doubts is not the doubts, but how they tempt us to turn away from the One who is more powerful than our fears and disbelief.
When the Son of God prays, He is mindful and consciously aware of only His Father. God always hears the prayers of His Son, and if the Son of God has been formed in me (see Galatians 4:19) the Father will always hear my prayers. But I must see to it that the Son of God is exhibited in my human flesh. “…your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit…” (1 Corinthians 6:19), that is, your body is the Bethlehem of God’s Son. Is the Son of God being given His opportunity to work in me? Is the direct simplicity of His life being worked out in me exactly as it was worked out in His life while here on earth? When I come into contact with the everyday occurrences of life as an ordinary human being, is the prayer of God’s eternal Son to His Father being prayed in me? Jesus says, “In that day you will ask in My name…” (John 16:26). What day does He mean? He is referring to the day when the Holy Spirit has come to me and made me one with my Lord.
Is the Lord Jesus Christ being abundantly satisfied by your life, or are you exhibiting a walk of spiritual pride before Him? Never let your common sense become so prominent and forceful that it pushes the Son of God to one side. Common sense is a gift that God gave to our human nature— but common sense is not the gift of His Son. Supernatural sense is the gift of His Son, and we should never put our common sense on the throne. The Son always recognizes and identifies with the Father, but common sense has never yet done so and never will. Our ordinary abilities will never worship God unless they are transformed by the indwelling Son of God. We must make sure that our human flesh is kept in perfect submission to Him, allowing Him to work through it moment by moment. Are we living at such a level of human dependence upon Jesus Christ that His life is being exhibited moment by moment in us?
Can God Use Me?
By: Shadia Hrichi
“God can’t use me.” Have you ever thought that? I confess that in my early Christian walk, I felt that way at times. But I have since learned the statement is not only wrong, but actually sinful. It is wrong because God is sovereign over all. He can use anything or anyone He chooses to accomplish His wonderful purposes. He can even do so without interfering with a person’s free will. He is thatcreative.
But the statement is also sinful for one simple reason: it elevates self over God. What I can do, what I can’t do. The moment we center our thoughts on our service to God, we move away from centering our thoughts (our worship) on God. On Who God is, on how much He loves us, and what He has done for us. The difference seems subtle, but nothing could be further from the truth.
But there is good news! There is hope for the heart that mourns, “God can’t use me.” The moment you and I turn our eyes away from what we can or cannot do for God, and instead center our hearts on Who He is and His love for us, our relationship with God will grow. God then slowly opens our eyes to how He is already at work in our lives. When we are ready, He invites us to participate in His holy work.
God recently reminded me of this precious truth when I received a message from a friend. My friend explained that for the past two years, she has been speaking with three young ladies in Cairo, Egypt. Once a week, she meets with them on Skype in order to help them with conversational English. As their friendships blossomed, the women began to talk about their beliefs. When my friend began sharing with the women what she is learning about Hagar and Ishmael from my Bible study, HAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me, they asked her to tell them more. They were eager to hear about Hagar’s story because, like themselves, Hagar was Egyptian! And unlike the Quran, which never even mentions Hagar by name, the Bible has a LOT to say about this fascinating woman – and God’s great love for her.
My friend was simply being faithful in the abilities God gave her. In time, God began to use that seemingly ordinary situation to open the door for the gospel. Then, when the time was right, my friend began sharing her faith in Christ with her Egyptian friends. Praise the Lord! God’s love is available to all! This is the message the world is longing for.
“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ [But] How can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe [if] they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:12-14 NIV)
Please pray for God to open the hearts of these precious women to His wonderful truths: just as God loved Hagar and Ishmael, God sees and loves every person He created. May each of us, like my friend, faithfully “shine [God’s] light in the darkness” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
How about you? How is God at work in your life?
Father, may You grant us open hearts and open minds to see how You are at work in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Give us courage, oh Lord, to speak the truth in love for You alone know the hearts of every person You created for Your glory. Amen.