Before Christ came into my life I was a lost and broken soul, desperate to hide, cover, escape, and control my shame. I couldn’t accept love from another human being when I believed I was unacceptable; I didn’t know how to receive love, I didn’t know how to give love, and it was inconceivable to me that Father God could possibly have anything but disgust and disdain for me.
How can a young man accept love from others when he “knows” he is unacceptable–when he believes he is unlovable, undesirable, unworthy, dirty, and defective? He searches for a motive–he wonders…
“what do they want from me? Maybe they are just acting nice because they have to deal with me. Maybe they just don’t know who I am yet, so this might be an opportunity to get something, to take from them. They seem to accept me despite my flaws–I better distance myself from them before my nakedness is exposed.
When I look back at all the damage, all the destruction, all the pain and suffering, and all the loss that false beliefs caused and accumulated, I realize that this was the personal path I had to travel to come to the end of myself; it was the path I had to travel to understand why God hates sin–why I hate sin; it was the path I had to travel to know the tender love of Jesus–my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.
4 The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
5 the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
7 Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
8 Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9 He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
10 He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
12 Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.
13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire.
14 And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
16 He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
17 He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
20 The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22 For all his rules[c] were before me,
and his statutes I did not put away from me.
23 I was blameless before him,
and I kept myself from my guilt.
24 So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
25 With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
26 with the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
27 For you save a humble people,
but the haughty eyes you bring down.
28 For it is you who light my lamp;
the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
29 For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.
30 This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
32 the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
33 He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me,
and your gentleness made me great.
36 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.
37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
and did not turn back till they were consumed.
38 I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;
they fell under my feet.
39 For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
you made those who rise against me sink under me.
40 You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
and those who hated me I destroyed.
41 They cried for help, but there was none to save;
they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.
42 I beat them fine as dust before the wind;
I cast them out like the mire of the streets.
43 You delivered me from strife with the people;
you made me the head of the nations;
people whom I had not known served me.
44 As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me;
foreigners came cringing to me.
45 Foreigners lost heart
and came trembling out of their fortresses.
46 The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation—
47 the God who gave me vengeance
and subdued peoples under me,
48 who delivered me from my enemies;
yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
you rescued me from the man of violence.
49 For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
and sing to your name.
50 Great salvation he brings to his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his offspring forever.
From 31 Days of Praise, by Ruth Meyers:
Thank You, my gracious and sovereign God, that You have been with me and carried me from the day of my birth until today… that You have known my whole life, from beginning to end, since before I was born… and that You ordained for me before one of them came to be.
Thank You that in Your gracious plan to bless and use me, You’ve allowed me to go through hard times, through trials that many people go through in this fallen world. How glad I am that You’re so good at reaching down and making something beautiful out of even the worst situations! How encouraged I am when I think how You did this for Joseph… how his brothers hated and abused and betrayed him, and how You worked these things out for blessing, both for Joseph and his family and for countless other people.
I praise You that the things that happened in my past, both enjoyable and painful, are raw materials for blessings, both in my life and in the lives of others. So I thank You for the specific family (or lack of family) into which I was born and the opportunities You did or did not provide. And thank You for the things in my past that appear to be limitations, hindrances, bad breaks… the wounds of old hurts, the unmet emotional needs, the mistakes or neglect of other people–even their cruelty to me, their abuse.
“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 THESSALONIANS 5:18
How comforting to know that in all my distresses You were distressed. And how I thank You, Lord Jesus, that on the cross You bore my griefs and carried my sorrows, as well as my sins… that I can kneel at the cross and worship You as the One who took on Yourself all my pain and experienced it to the full. And how comforting to know that in the present, day by day, You feel with me any pain, confusion, inner bondage, or struggles that stem from my past. Thank You that all these seeming disadvantages are a backdrop for the special unfolding plan You have in mind for me… and that if my past still handicaps me, You are able to lead me to the kind of help I need.
I’m so grateful that all my past circumstances were permitted by You to make me see my need of You and prepare my heart for Your Word… to draw me to Yourself, and to work out Your good purposes for my life. I rejoice that You are the Blessed Controller of all things–You are now, You will be throughout the future, and You always were. All my days had Your touch of love and wisdom, whether or not I can yet fully see it.
And, Lord, I choose to look beyond my past and present troubles in this life–this temporary life–and fix my eyes on the unseen things that will last forever. I praise You for the eternal glory these things are piling up for me as I choose to trust You.
“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried…”