“Ministry means the ongoing attempt to put one’s own search for God, with all the moments of pain and joy, despair and hope, at the disposal of those who want to join this search but do not know how.” (Henri Nouwen)
Certainly, these words are true of many of the Psalms and Psalm 39 maybe more than others. Listen to the first verses of this psalm of David.
1 I said, “I will watch my ways
and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
while in the presence of the wicked.”
2 So I remained utterly silent,
not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
3 my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:
We have no idea of the context of this psalm, but we do know that David was having a tough time and “his dialogue with God provides us with a deep insight into the struggles of his soul…struggles in which faith is engaged…[and all] on the basis of his own grievous experiences”. (# 27)
Initially he remained utterly silent, not even saying anything good. In fact, he wanted to complain to God, maybe even about God! But he held his tongue, or in his words he put a muzzle on [his] mouth.
Have you ever done that? Been in a situation in which you were desperately unhappy for some reason and yet you kept quiet? I have and the longer I kept quiet the worse it got! It seems though that this is normal and David confirms that here. He says that the longer he kept silent, the greater his anguish increased; my heart grew hot within me. While I meditated, the fire burned.
But as we read on we discover that, “The strength of his dutiful self-control did not hold out against the burning agony caused by brooding over his thoughts and … unbearable pain” (#27) and so he tells us, I spoke with my tongue.
It was all too painful and he couldn’t hold it in any longer. He had to speak it out to whoever was around him and maybe especially to God.
How very often in life do we need a listening ear? I know I do sometimes. Someone who will sit with us in our confusion, in our grief, in our pain and just listen. Not even necessarily offer advice but just be with us and hear us out. To actually verbalize our issues is healthy. To bottle them up can be dangerous. Even leading some to the extreme of suicide.
If this is you today, find someone you can trust and talk with them concerning your “moments of pain and joy, despair and hope” and allow the healing to follow.
But don’t forget God. He is the One you can turn to anytime concerning everything that is happening in your life. Talk to Him. In fact, as David puts it, My hope is in you (v 7), so he confidently says, “Hear my prayer, Lord, listen to my cry for help. (V 10)
Peter, in the NT reminds us that you can:
Cast all your cares on Him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Or as J.B. Phillips translates this verse:
You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern. (1 Peter 5:7 Phillip’s Translation)
Thank you Father for this wonderful truth. Thank you that we can bring all our concerns to you because you care for us. Amen.