BY JORDAN MAYER
"When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul."
As part of my daily Bible reading plan, I read through one Psalm every morning. While it's often difficult to answer the "what's your favorite book of the Bible?" question, the book of Psalms would definitely make the short list. I love the beautiful structure of the poetry and the vivid imagery the authors use to express their thoughts. The Psalms span a wide range of situations and emotions, and I have found there to be a Psalm for every season. Psalms of praise. Psalms of lament. Psalms of thanksgiving. Psalms of wisdom. I have yet to find a circumstance in life where I have failed to find encouragement in the pages of this book in Scripture.
Under the crushing weight of my sin, I have prayed the words of Psalm 51 more times than I can count. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me" (v. 10).
When depression has hung over me like a dark cloud, I have preached the words of Psalm 42 to myself. "Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God" (v. 5)
When I am paralyzed by fear and anxiety, I quote Psalm 56 in my head. "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise. In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?" (v. 3-4).
When I feel tempted by the allure of sin, I remember Psalm 16. "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; and at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (v. 9, emphasis added).
As I read through Psalm 94, verse 19 became the latest addition to my arsenal. What a precious verse to repeat.
I may not know what your cares are, just like you may not know mine - although we are encouraged to bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2). While our cares may vary from one to the next, the remedy remains the same. The source of comfort, of consolation, remains the same.
In Psalm 94, the author addresses God directly and declares, "your consolations cheer my soul". What are his consolations? The author names them in the chapter. The Lord is a just judge (v. 1-2). The Lord hears all and sees all (v. 9). The Lord does not forsake His people (v. 14). The Lord is our help (v. 17). The Lord's steadfast love holds us up (v. 18). The Lord is our stronghold and rock of refuge (v. 22).
In Luke 2:25, we read that Simeon was waiting for the "consolation of Israel". What was his consolation? Directed by the Holy Spirit to the temple, He sees the Consolation of Israel before his very eyes, the "salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel" (Luke 2: 30-32). He sees Jesus!
When my cares lie heavy on my heart, here are a few of my consolations:
"But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him'" (Lamentations 3:21-24).
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11).
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:35, 37-39).
God is our great consolation. He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3), a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1), and near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). So what does He ask of us?
Simply to come (Matthew 11:28). Cast your cares (1 Peter 5:7). Lay down your burdens (Psalm 55:22). Pour out your heart (Psalm 62:8).
Find rest, peace, and comfort in His presence today.