When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before You.
Yet I am always with You;
You hold me by my right hand…
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And earth has nothing I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
How many times have I been senseless and ignorant before God? I think I cycle into those sentiments at least once a month, when my own strength to believe has depleted itself.
I used to believe that His love for me was as capricious as my trust was for Him, and so when the doubts and confusion and bitterness reared up I transplanted those feelings onto God and became certain that He felt nothing for me. Apathetic, like an imaginary friend whose personality was subject to my whims.
That isn’t what the Psalmist knew. His relationship with God was a relationship of person-to-person, not person-to-imagined-idea-of-a-person. And because he knew God’s personhood, he fully acknowledged to Him his times of stubborn anger; there’s no pretending in the presence of an all-knowing Being. I, on the other hand, typically try to convince God that I’m not upset about the turns of life: “No, Father, I’m fine. Really. It doesn’t matter. If you don’t care, I don’t care. I’ll just muddle along.” Passive-aggressive much?
But the Psalmist flat-out says, “I’ve been a jerk in my grief. I’ve been unable to compose myself, unable to present a clean and upstanding front. I’ve been like a dumb animal before you.” There’s only honesty between him and the Lord – something I commonly forego in the hope of presenting a disinterested front. “Let’s keep our relations cordial, God, what do you say?”
What blows me away even more, is that after the Psalmist admits his attitude and emotion before God, he holds fast to God’s steady response: He doesn’t leave us. He holds our hand, he guides us along, even when we’re petulant little children digging in our heels. The Psalmist’s raw need allows him this revelation.
“[He] is the strength of my heart.” I have had days where – for all logical reasons – I should have despaired my situation. Yet somehow there was inexplicable strength and hope. To put it in the geekiest way possible, it was like I had some super power imbued to me, a gift of resilience going into the fray.
It’s my greatest proof of God’s existence, because if it had anything to do with my whims I’d be up and down all over the place. He is not subject to my personal feelings. He is not my flighty imaginary friend. He is powerful, near, and involved. He is my “portion” as the Psalmist would say – or as I would like to say: my super hero.