How to Pray to a God who is Close (Psalm 23)

When it comes to what we think of God and how close or far He is, I think we too often think of Him as “out there” somewhere. We aren’t sure where, but He often feels further away than close by. This has an enormous effect on our prayer life.

Over and over throughout Scripture, we are told that God is close. That God never leaves us. That God watches over us. That God cares for us.

That God is close.

Psalm 23 is a great example of this.

Often seen as a psalm for funerals or dying, it is a psalm about living. Life is hard. Life hurts. Life is often more down than up, and David tells us from his experience how to experience God in the depths of darkness as well as the heights of celebration.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

David describes an incredibly close God.

A shepherd is with his sheep. He is not off somewhere else but is with them. He knows them. He knows if they are sick, eating well, eating too little, if they are young or old.

A shepherd knows what the sheep need so that they do not live in want.

A shepherd leads and the sheep follow. The sheep do not arrive anywhere the shepherd does not want them to.

When the shepherd leads, the sheep find food, water and rest. In the shepherd is found life and rest. Many of us find ourselves tired, rundown, barely hanging on instead of living, and yet God invites us to follow Him to rest and life.

How?

David tells us in verse 3 that God restores us. God picks us up. God cleans us off. For the person who feels unloved, who feels dirty, abandoned, not worth anything, this verse is a beautiful picture of God’s grace towards us.

Why does God do this?

To get our lives on the right paths, His paths.

As if that weren’t enough, God does not leave us. God walks with us.

We walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

We don’t stay there. We don’t walk into it, we walk through it. With God. Through the power of God.

There is an ebb and flow to prayer and the Christian life. David starts with comfort and God’s provision, things that help us see the character of God as we walk in new ways of His grace. That grace is just as real, and that grace is the same when we walk through the dark valleys. For many of us, we need the grace of the first few verses to believe the grace that God has for us when the storms roll in.

The rod and staff of a shepherd were used for protection of the sheep, warding off predators, but they were also used to keep the sheep together, in line and to discipline the sheep if necessary. In all this, God’s protection and discipline are a comfort.

How can David say this?

Because they keep me on the path that God has for me. They get me to where God wants me.

David ends with a powerful statement: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

If we don’t understand David’s life, we miss the power of this statement. For David, life was not good. Many times King Saul tried to kill him. The whole Philistine army (the most powerful army of the day) chased him to kill him. They killed his best friend, Jonathan. He lost a baby with Bathsheba. His favorite son Absalom stole his throne, and David was overthrown and had to flee for his life. Then Absalom was killed. For David, life was hard, painful, difficult and full of loss.

Yet because God was close, because God walked with him, he was able to face life and pray to his God.

Here’s my challenge for you this week. Use Psalm 23 as a prayer guide:

  • Simply read through the Psalm several times in one sitting.
  • Whatever word or phrase that jumps out to you, ask God why that stood out. Is there something happening in your life that God wants you to think about or draw your attention to? Is there something about yourself or God that the Holy Spirit wants to make you aware of?
  • Throughout your day (when you’re standing in line, waiting for a meeting, etc.), ask God to remind you of His closeness to you.

The Silence of God (Psalm 13)

Oswald Chambers said, “Has God trusted you with His silence— a silence that has great meaning? God’s silences are actually His answers. Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany! Is there anything comparable to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking Him for a visible answer?”

While we often think God’s silence means He has abandoned us or left us, that is not true. God’s silence does not equal God’s absence.

But what do we do in those moments?

God is inviting us into something through His silence, just like He does through His leadings, promptings and moves in our lives.

Philip Yancey in his book Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? gives some helpful steps on how to handle the silence of God or what seems like unanswered prayer:

1. Do I have any sins to confess? Many times our distance with God is because of unconfessed sin. When we struggle to move forward in relationships, when we struggle to hear God, to find freedom in our lives, it is because of our sin that we are carrying around; bitterness we haven’t let go of, people we still blame, situations we replay in our minds, and secrets we keep hidden.

2. What are my motives for prayer? Many times we pray to get something, to become rich or to have an easier life. We want God on our terms, and when this happens we miss God. This is why God feels distant. We aren’t looking for God, we are looking for a version of God we’ve created.

In this, are you listening to God or just talking to God? Too often our prayer life is one way, me just telling God what I want, what I need, what He can do. I’m not asking Him questions, I’m not listening to Him.

Another one I’ll have people say is, “I asked God about ______ (and in the blank is always something God has already told us the answer to in the Bible), but He didn’t answer.” Of course not; He’s already given you an answer. Why does He need to tell you again?

3. Am I pursuing results rather than closeness with God? I said earlier that the writers of Scripture spend little time answering why suffering happens and more time on what suffering, pain and silence produce in us. It produces perseverance, character, patience, hope, joy and so on.

4. Is God preparing me for something? Often God is using our spiritual dryness for something in the future. I read once that a vintner refuses to irrigate his vines because the stress caused by occasional drought produces the best, most tasty grapes. Seasons of dryness make the roots run deep, strengthening the vine for whatever the future holds.

5. Pray with others. This is the power of community, praying together and sharing evidences of God’s grace. When you sit with your RC and share how you have seen God work in your life, and you can’t think of any, but the person next to you shares several, yes, you will get mad at first. Why isn’t God moving in my life like He is yours? Why isn’t God answering my prayers? But you will also start to see that even when you can’t see God at work in your life, He is at work.

I saw this in my life about 18 months ago. Our church was growing, we were meeting on the east side in a school and things were going well. We were outgrowing our space, so we moved to a larger school, and in six months half our church had left. It hurt. People I was close to said everything had changed and left. It rocked my confidence, made me question my leadership. Should I quit Revolution? Did I make a wrong choice? Was I a bad leader? During this time, every pastor I met was leading a church that was growing. I was watching ours shrink.

I asked God why, and nothing.

Slowly I stopped asking why and I started asking God what He wanted to show me and what He wanted to invite me into. I began to see His invitation to know His love for me, which seemed like an odd answer because at the time it had very little to do with Revolution. And yet my relationship with God is deeper than ever before, my heart towards God and people is softer than ever before. Could that happen without losing my confidence? Maybe, but God saw that as the best way forward for me. Many times God’s perceived silence is to draw us deeper into Him. The dark place you are in might be God’s invitation to you to meet Him there. You will not walk out the same.

Henry Blackaby said, “You can respond to the silence of God in two ways. One response is for you to go into depression, a sense of guilt and self-condemnation. The other response is for you to have an expectation that God is about to bring you to a deeper knowledge of Himself. These responses are as different as night and day.”

James, the brother of Jesus, says in the New Testament, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” James does not give us a time line on this promise, just that it is a promise.

Too often the reason we miss God is our rush for something to happen, for something to change.

Frequently God’s silence is an invitation for us to stop, to slow down, to meet God and do some hard heart work. This can be painful and is often why we try to skip out of it. Yet, just like we will miss out on God’s best if we don’t follow His leadings, we will miss out on His best for us if we don’t follow His silence.

God has not Forgotten You (Psalm 8)

Forgotten. Lost. Abandoned. Rejected. Left out. Passed over.

These words describe so many of the emotions that run through our lives. Parents who left us. A spouse who walked out on us. A parent who never said, “I love you.” A child who wants nothing to do with you. A boss who didn’t give you a promotion. A missed college opportunity. The feeling that you have no friends.

No matter how old we get, no matter how far we run or hide in relationships, we still find ourselves left out. At the very least, we find ourselves missing out.

These reasons and emotions draw us to pray. They pull us out of ourselves to seek God. This is one reason why the book of Psalms is so loved in people’s lives. It gives voice to the emotions we carry and the hurt we don’t know what to do with.

What has struck me so far in preaching through Psalms has been the number of psalms of lament, but also their placement with other psalms.

Psalms 3 – 7 and 9 – 13 are psalms of lament. Right in the middle is Psalm 8 where there is a celebration, as if a reminder that the sun does rise, the storm does end, the pain does not last forever. So in the midst of living in dark places and feeling alone, it does change. It is also a reminder for those who experience Psalm 8 and are celebrating and in the midst of joy that Psalm 9 is coming, and the sun will go down and life will happen in a way we did not expect or plan for.

What David does in Psalm 8 is important.

In verse 3 he recalls back to creation: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place.” He describes the intentionality of God’s creation, that it was not thrown together by his hands but done with the creativity and details of his fingers. He was involved and purposeful.

Then in verse 4 he lays out what is an incredible verse: “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

Many of us feel forgotten, lost, left out and not cared for, not only by those around us, but by God.

Imagine right now that the God of the universe thinks of you and cares for you.

But what does that mean?

If you think of someone, if you are mindful of them, you are in a relationship with them. You know their celebrations and joys as well as their low points and pains. You remember the last good cry you had with them and the last time you laughed so hard it hurt. You know what they are dealing with, dreaming about and hoping for.

That is God’s relationship to you.

Not only that, he cares for you. He not only knows what you are walking through but cares what you are walking through.

Never again forgotten.

This is the foundation of the Christian life, that you are loved by God.

The foundation of following Jesus is not what you bring to Jesus, what you do for Jesus, how much you know about Jesus, how many Bible tests you can ace, how often you read your Bible, how much you pray or anything you do. Those are responses to God’s love.

The beginning steps of following Jesus are, “I am a beloved child of God.”

I am loved by God.

While many people say they believe this and will quote a verse or two, from my own personal life and being a pastor for almost two decades, few people live like this is a reality.

We spend so much time trying to earn God’s love and proving Jesus right for dying for us.

The only thing we did for that to happen was be broken and sinful.

What David does in this Psalm, though, is incredible. He tells us how we will remember this.

It is easy to forget that God thinks of you and cares for you. It is easy to think that God does those things because we do something or we are more spiritual or something else moves the needle on that.

David says when you and I look at creation, we will be reminded of God’s love, care and thought of us.

When you look at the mountains, the sun, the moon, the stars, you will be reminded. He takes everyday things, things we see on a daily basis, knowing that we need a daily reminder of God’s love for us.

The next time you watch a beautiful sunrise or sunset, that is a reminder of God’s love, care and thought of you.

The next time you see mountains covered in snow or rise above the clouds, that is a reminder of God’s love, care and thought of you.

The next time you see the trees change colors, that is a reminder of God’s love, care and thought of you.

The next time you put your feet in sand and let the ocean rush over them, that is a reminder of God’s love, care and thought of you.

Daily things.

Why?

We forget. We run. We hide. We keep God at arm’s length. We try to be impressive. We are so used to living forgotten, invisible lives that David wants us to know we are invisible no more. We are unloved no more. We are forgotten no more.

Is Every Open Door God’s Will?

Often when we think about God’s will, we think about it in very mystical terms. It is floating out there waiting for us to find it, much like a unicorn. Everyone is seeking, few have found it but if you do, it changes everything.

On the other side, we try to make it as practical as possible. Simply look for open doors. If a door is open, that must be God’s will, a mentor told me once.

Every open door?

Some doors that are open to us are God’s will and others aren’t.

I want to speak to the person who stares at open doors.

Too often we miss God’s will because we are looking at an open door just waiting.

What are we waiting for?

For conclusive proof. For God to make it obvious. For God to take away every other door so we know which of four doors in front of us to walk through.

Yet faith doesn’t work this way. Yes, God gives us obvious ways to follow His plan in the Bible. We know that every follower of Jesus is to use his gifts and talents for the glory of God. Where and how are not spelled out. Part of the adventure of faith is the risk of those steps.

Instead of staring at open doors wondering, “Is this the one?”, walk forward. Take a hold of the handle and see if it stays open and what God has on the other side.

Loving Your Neighbor

Serving is something some of us do well and others do grudgingly. It is easier to do when it is someone we love or someone we like, or who is like us or can give back to us. We love those people and we love serving those people.

Yet according to the gospels, lots of people love those people.

What makes being a follower of Jesus different, and one of the evidences of a changed life, is a willingness to serve people who can’t repay us, people not like us, people who are difficult or need a lot of grace.

In fact, when we serve we remind ourselves of the grace that God extended to us. You are hard to love, your life was (and maybe still is) a mess, you can’t repay God (although you try with all your might). Yet, God extended and continues to extend grace to you. Why? Love.

Everything starts with the love God has for you. Being loved by God is hard to wrap our minds around. What does God expect in return? What do you have to do so that God will love you? Will He hold out on love for you like a parent did? Will He love you more if you perform well? These all make sense in our minds, and yet all these things miss the character and depth of God’s love for us.

God doesn’t love you more based on your performance, and He doesn’t hold out on you. He gives His love and grace to you through His Son, and you did nothing outside of being broken and stuck in your sin for Him to extend it to you.

What did the man in the Good Samaritan parable do to get help? Well, he needed to need help. Right now God has placed someone in your life who needs help. Someone who is stuck and sitting on the side of the road of life unsure of how to move forward or wondering if they can move forward. Maybe they feel like their life, marriage or career is over. (Remember, if no one helped the man on the road to Jericho in Luke 10, there’s a good chance he would’ve died.)

Who will help that person in your life?

In our selfishness, we think someone else will come along. Yet, God sent you. You are there. You are their friend, their child, their parent, they are in your community group, they work next to you. You are there.

Will God send someone else if we overlook them? Maybe. God sent three people to help the man on the side of the road in Luke 10.

But our call, based on the love God has extended to us, is to extend that same love to those around us.

Is that messy? Yes. Is that easy? No. Will that cost you something? Yes. Is the grace God extended to you messy? Yes. Was it easy? No. Did it cost God something? Yes.

This week, today, tomorrow, you have a tangible opportunity to show someone what the grace and love of God are like. The grace and love of God that have been given to you.

Can Suffering Bring Any Joy or Happiness?

suffering

Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my 75 years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained. In other words, if it ever were to be possible to eliminate affliction from our earthly existence by means of some drug or other medical mumbo jumbo…the result would not be to make life delectable, but to make it too banal and trivial to be endurable. This, of course, is what the Cross signifies. And it is the Cross, more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ. -Malcolm Muggeridge

A Prayerful Response to the Election

As we move towards the election, many of us have different thoughts about it, the candidates and the direction of our country. Some are excited, some are fearful, some are indifferent. Elections create joy and anxiety for different people.

As followers of Jesus, we are to engage politics in a unique, distinct and attractive way.

But how do we do that?

One of the ways we can do that is by focusing ourselves through praying the Lord’s Prayer.

election

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

God is our good and gracious Father who always does what is good, right and perfect. A father cares deeply for his children, and our heavenly Father cares deeply for His creation.

Acknowledging that God is Father also reminds us that God is in charge. That our God is in heaven, and nothing happens without His direction and permission. While we may not always understand or agree with His direction or permission, we can rest knowing His care for us as a Father.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

We are reminded that ultimately God’s kingdom will come. God’s will will be done. Nothing can thwart that.

Regardless of the election results, we know that God is still God and Jesus is still on the throne, on earth as it is in heaven.

This is great comfort to a follower of Jesus.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

This line helps us to remember where our needs get met and what God has done for us.

This also reminds us of where our response comes from, that we are to engage politics in a unique, distinct and attractive way. We can do this because we know that on our own, we live unforgiven, debt ridden lives. This allows us to extend the forgiveness we have received to those around us.

election

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

We are tempted to be evil when it comes to politics. We are tempted to repay evil with evil. We also need to be delivered from evil because there is evil in our world (although not always in the places we think).

This is a reminder of our fallenness apart from Jesus and our need for His grace. This reminds us of not only our need, but also that Jesus is the only deliverer. Not a political party, not a candidate, a policy or a platform. While those are tools God can and does use, they cannot save us and deliver us.

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever.

This last line sums it up well. God is in control, forever and ever. All the kingdom, the power and the glory go to Him. Regardless of what happens in a culture or election, we can rest knowing we can live knowing that.

Knowing God, Knowing Love

God

In his book Surrender to Love: Discovering the Heart of Christian Spirituality, David Benner says:

Ask Christians what they believe about God, and most will have a good deal to say. However, ask those same people what they know about God from direct personal experience, and most will have much less to say.

Many will speak of knowing that their sins have been forgiven. Some will speak of answers to prayer or a sense of God’s presence. But many will fall strangely silent. Many – even evangelicals, who talk the most about a personal relationship with God – will not have much to say about how they actually experience God in that relationship.

A.W. Tozer notes that most of us who call ourselves Christians do so on the basis of belief more than experience. We have, he argues, “substituted theological ideas for an arresting encounter; we are full of religious notions, but our great weakness is that for our hearts there is no one there.”

Why is it easier to perform for God? To know about God but not actually know God and experience God? Why is it easier to know that God loves you but not experience God’s love for you?

It’s easier to keep score than to actually live in God’s love. It’s easier to grade ourselves on church attendance, Bible reading, memorizing scripture, serving, and giving. Those are easier. Yet we can do all those things and still miss God. (Matthew 7:21 – 23)

If you, like me, struggle to live in God’s love, to know and experience God’s love and for God’s love for you to be the basis of your Christian life, let me give you a challenge.

This week, take some time to sit in silence and meditate on the following passages. Now if you are like me, you will read the Bible with an eye on “getting something out of it.” Who has time for feelings of love and silence?! I know I’m much more comfortable talking about God, debating theology and beliefs, than experiencing God. My hunch is you might be, too. The reason isn’t only because it’s easier to keep score, but also moving closer to God’s love for you will cause you to ask, “What does God think of me when I come to his mind?”

Stop a moment and answer that question: What does God think of you when you come to his mind?

Many will answer that question with disappointment or anger. But is God disappointed or angry with you? Does God feel indifferent towards you? The answer to those questions is no.

So, while you are sitting in silence, read the following passages. Now, don’t read them to learn something. Don’t read them to get some nugget of truth. Read them to let the truth of God’s love for you sink in.

Here they are:

  • Psalm 23, 91, 131
  • Isaiah 43:1 – 4, 49:14 – 16
  • Hosea 11:1 – 4
  • Matthew 10:29 – 31
  • Romans 8:31 – 39

As you do, remember the question: What does God think of you when you come to his mind? What do these verses tell you?

How to Handle Your Shame

shame

All of us to one degree or another carry around shame. Things we’ve done, things done to us. Things we’ve said, things said to us. Things we wished we had done, and things we wish that others had done. Shame shows up in all kinds of places and in all kinds of people.

What we often overlook is how much shame shapes our identity and our lives. It becomes a driving force in our lives, how we work and how we relate to others and God.

In Future Grace: The Purifying Power of the Promises of God, John Piper says shame comes from three causes:

  1. Guilt. This is the one many of us know well. The addiction, the hidden sin, the abuse we don’t talk about, the affair, the divorce, the poor parenting, our failure at work and in life. We carry around guilt for ourselves and often without thinking, for others. When guilt becomes public knowledge, we have shame. Now we are known for what we have feared.
  2. Shortcomings. Shortcomings and failures are something all of us experience. Some of them are real and others imagined. Some are life shaping, and other shortcomings we simply shrug off. It is the ones that are life shaping that lead to shame. When our frame of mind says, “You are a failure, you aren’t good enough, you aren’t beautiful, strong enough or worthwhile”, we experience shame.
  3. Improprieties. These are the experiences in our life where we feel silly, look stupid or are embarrassed. We make a mistake, and it feels like everyone knows about it.

What do you do with your shame?

According to Romans 10:11, if you are a follower of Jesus, you will not be put to shame.

Yet shame is a driving factor in the lives of so many.

Here are six ways to move forward from your shame:

1. Name your shame. If you don’t name something, it takes ownership of you. This is a crucial step. You must name the hurt, the guilt, the shortcoming, the impropriety, the embarrassment, the abuse, the loss, the misstep, the sin. If you don’t, you stay stuck.

I’ve met countless people who couldn’t say the name of an ex, name the situation of hurt or talk about something. This doesn’t mean that you are a victim or wallow in your pain, but naming something is crucial. Without this first step, the others become difficult to impossible.

The saying, “Whatever we don’t own, owns us”, applies here. This is a crucial, crucial step.

2. Identify the emotions attached to it. Many times when we are hurt, we are an emotional wreck and can’t see a way forward. All we know is that we are hurt, that life isn’t as we’d hoped, but we aren’t sure what to do.

What emotions are attached to your shame? Is it guilt? Loss? Failure? Missed opportunity? Sadness? Hopelessness? Indifference?

Name them.

Name the emotion that goes with your abuse, abandonment, divorce, failed business, dropping out of school, not meeting your expectations or the expectations of someone else.

Often times we feel shame when we have a different emotion attached to it, but shame is far more familiar to us. Do you feel neglected or hurt or sad? What emotion is conjured up from a memory?

3. Confess the sins that are there. Do you always have sin when you feel shameful? No. Sometimes it is misplaced shame. It is shame you have no business owning. You didn’t sin; someone else sinned against you.

Sometimes, though, there is a sin on your part. You may have sinned, and that’s why you feel shame. Sometimes your sin might be holding on to that person or situation.

Sometimes you need to confess that your shame is keeping you from moving forward and keeping you stuck.

Bring those sins to light.

4. Grieve the loss. When we have shame, there is a loss. This loss might be a missed opportunity or missed happiness. It might be bigger than that and be a missed childhood, a loss of your 20’s, a loss of health or job opportunity.

It might be a relationship that will never be, something you can never go back to.

As you think about your shame, what did you lose? What did you miss out on? What did that situation prevent you from doing or experiencing? What hurt do you carry around? What will never be the same because of that situation?

5. Name what you want. This one is new for me, but it has to do with your desires.

Often the reason we stay stuck is because we know what stuck is. We don’t know what the future holds. Beyond that, we don’t know what we actually want.

We carry shame around from a relationship with a father who walked out. Do you want a relationship? Do you want to be in touch?

We carry shame from a failed business. Do you want to get back in the game?

Can you name, in the situation associated with your shame, what you want?

Sadly, many people cannot.

If you can’t name what you want, if you can’t identify a desire, you will struggle to move forward.

6. Identify what God wants you to know about Him. When we carry around shame, we carry around a lie. In identifying that lie, we are identifying the truth that God wants us to know about Him.

If you feel unloved, the truth that God wants you to know is that you are loved. If you feel unwanted, God wants you to know you are wanted. If you feel dirty, God wants you to know the truth that in Him you are clean.

All throughout scripture we are told that God is a Father, that He is as close to us as a mother nursing her child, that God is compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love, gracious, tender, strong and for us.

The list goes on and on.

In that list, though, is the truth, the antidote to your shame and what you need to remind yourself of to move forward and live into the freedom of Jesus.

Freedom is hard.

Let’s be honest, freedom is difficult. Living in sin, shame, guilt and regret is easy. It is what we know. It is where most people live and reside.

Freedom is scary. Freedom is unknown. Freedom leaves us vulnerable. Freedom leaves us not in control.

Yet, this is what it means to be a child of God. To live in freedom. Overflowing freedom.

Can You Trust God?

trust

A common question that people ask is, “How do I know I can trust God?”

We talk about how to trust God when life falls apart, when the bottom falls out of a relationship, when we hit hard financial times or we get a phone call we didn’t expect.

What about just trusting God each day, whether things are good or bad?

There are promises all over the Bible about God, His character, what He will do and will not do. But how do you know those are real and will not fail?

That’s the question the apostle Paul is seeking to answer at the beginning of Romans 9.

Trusting in God is a hard thing to do, but when we do, it leads to our joy.

One of the things I often encourage people to do who struggle to trust in God is to ask themselves why they don’t trust God. What keeps you from that? Is it something you think God should have done? Is it because of a past hurt or a relationship that fell apart?

Often without realizing it, we don’t trust God not because of God but because of ourselves.

Once we are able to see why we don’t trust God and what keeps us from taking that step, we are able to deal with that.

It isn’t as simple as “just trusting God more.”

The reality, though, is all of us trust in someone or something in our lives.

We trust in people everyday.

Yet the reverse is true, and we know it to be true.

Misplaced trust does not lead to joy.

One of the things that I find most fascinating about Habakkuk chapter 3 is how Habakkuk reminds himself of how God has moved in the past. He recalls how the nation of Israel began, how God brought the nation of Israel out of slavery in the book of Exodus and gave them the 10 Commandments.

What Habakkuk is doing is reminding himself of how God has moved in the past. Often our struggle is with trusting that God will show up. Habakkuk is showing us, “God worked in the past, so I can trust He will work now and in the future.”

This doesn’t mean that God will work in the same way as the past. It doesn’t mean He will work on our timetable, but we do know He is at work.

You may be in a place where you need to remind yourself of how God has worked in the past of your life. Maybe you need to journal or make a list of things He’s done, prayers He has answered. Maybe you need to determine why you don’t trust God, what is holding you back and how to move forward in that. What things are you placing your trust in that will ultimately let you down and take away your joy instead of giving you joy?