The words came out so casually, “Well, I gotta go to North Carolina for a week.” He says, as he scrolls through his emails. “When?” I ask while his words bounce around my mind like they’re in a pinball machine. “The 13th through the 17th.” He replies apologetically because he knows May is cray and he knows that of all the weeks in May, that week is the worst. I stand there frozen as I calculate the reality of juggling our three kiddos schedules, softball season, the start of a remodel, and executing Staff Appreciation week at my eldest’s middle school.
This is the pressure cooker of life. Yet if we aren’t watchful, these curveballs can plant seeds of bitterness that get watered by resentment which, in time, yield acres of unmet expectations and the rift between you and your spouse begins to grow wider and deeper. How do we navigate this terrain in a way that glorifies God? We do what David did; we learn to preach to our heart. The book of Psalms is David’s manual for how to preach to our heart. Amid life’s circumstances, David reveals a pattern of behavior, that if we adopt it, can lead us to deeper trust in the sovereignty and provision of God for all that we need.
Step 1: Keep first things, first- “My voice You will hear in the morning; Oh LORD, in the morning, will I direct it to You, and I will look up.” (Psalm 5:3) David comes faithfully to the throne room of grace and lays his burden out before the Lord because God is his “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) Our “first step” always reveals who or what is the source of our strength. When a curveball hurls in your direction, where do you go first? Do you call a friend, talk with your mom, vent on social media, or do you pride yourself in rising from adversity and proving you don’t need help from anyone? David’s pattern of behavior was to come routinely before God with the expectation that He would intervene.
Step 2: Empty yourself- “I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim, I drench my couch with my tears. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows old because of all my enemies.” (Psalm 6:6-7) David is raw, he’s specific, and he pours out his heart before the Lord until there’s nothing left. We, too, can “come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) We can stand, just as we are, and ask our Father for all that we need. When Monday morning came, I laid it out; I admitted my need, I asked for His strength and wisdom, and I committed my heart to desire His will above my own.
Step 3: Remember who God is- “For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” (Psalm 18) Throughout the Psalms, David continually reminds himself and declares back to God who He is and what He has done. “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, You enlarged my path under me so that my feet did not slip.” (Psalm 18) This is preaching to your heart! We preach to our heart when we remind ourselves that the “faithfulness of the LORD endures forever” (Psalm 117:2); when we recall His previous provisions and speak the truth of His promises.
David’s method of preaching to his heart displays a beautiful balance of acknowledging his fears, his struggles, his “pits of despair” (Psalm 40), while coming “under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91) to find God’s strength, power, and rest. When we find ourselves overwhelmed, weak, or burdened let’s be like David and preach truth to our hearts. Let’s rush to our gracious Redeemer first, empty ourselves out before Him, and stand firm as we remind ourselves of who He is. When we do, we will see His tender mercies in ways we never expected!