I was 27 years old when a friend texted me: “Read Psalm 107.” She felt strongly that there was something to this passage of Scripture—that its words would weave a song in our hearts or another type of offering to encourage others. A song never came of it but I wrote this on my little blog on the World Wide Web:
“Sometimes He wrings the worship from our hearts.”
If you get the chance, read Psalm 107.
There are times when worship overflows easily and effortlessly from a heart full of gratitude and praise. Yet, there are other times when we feel we have nothing left to offer up. We are tired, or thirsty, or imprisoned in our own chains through our own devices, or caught in the waves of a tumultuous sea. This is when God wraps His eternally powerful, ultimately creative, nail-scarred hands around our hearts and squeezes with appropriate might. Our hearts painfully twist and change shape as He wrings the worship out of it. It is a deep worship. It is an honest worship. It is the worship we sometimes forget. The humble worship of crying out to God in the midst of our pain. No flowery words. No shiny faces. Not in that moment. That will come later. But for now, this is the worship He seeks— an honest plea for Him to save us.
“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress” (Psalm 107:6, 13, 19, 28).
I scrawled a picture of a heart twisting like a damp rag dripping with whimsical curls and droplets. The image has ever since burned in my mind. As I typed out the words for my recently released book, Steadfast Love, the Lord gave me another picture: an anchor, worn but strong.
Eight years span the gap between the twisting heart and the well-worn anchor. I have known many a desert, prison, folly, and storm, and the gut-level worship they wrung from my heart. To my surprise, I found many places in Scripture where people just like me struggled through their own seasons of distress. Each were loved by God in the midst of it and delivered from it.
Psalm 107 is the first psalm of the fifth book of the Psalms. It was written about actual events. People were physically in the desert, in chains, in folly, and in the storms and God rescued them. Troubles and rescue continue still, perhaps not in the same form but in the same spirit. Many of us have had our seasons in the desert. We’ve felt alone, dry, and dissatisfied.
Many have felt the heavy chains of bondage, shackles that we futilely struggle against to no avail. Folly has led us to places we never thought we were capable of going. We have been shocked by our own vices. The storms come for all of us. No one escapes loss this side of heaven.
The beauty of this psalm is that there is not one season in which we have not found ourselves. It is an invitation to self-examination balanced by God-exaltation. We see ourselves with the psalmist’s eyes, we recognize the ache, the sting, the heaviness; and, we identify with their cry for help. The picture of God’s deliverance in each scenario encourages us to trust that He is willing and able—that there is a God who cares, who is not far off, who concerns Himself with our concerns, and who is the only One capable of rescuing us.
I invite you to scoot up a chair and lean in to hear the good news that no matter the season, no matter if we’re hungry and thirsty, heavy-hearted, entangled in sin, or weathering a storm, God is the Lord of steadfast love, the anchor of our souls.
Excerpted with permission from Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler (B&H Publishing)
Photo by (flickr CC): Gord Iversen