Friday Morning Devotion (Trouble, Anxiety, and Understanding)

137You are righteous, YHWH,
and your judgments are just.
138The laws you give are right,
They are very faithful.
139I’m speechless with anger,
because my enemies have forgotten your words.
140Your promise has been thoroughly tested,
Your servant loves it!
141I’m of little account and despised,
yet I have not forgotten your precepts.
142Your justice is everlasting,
and your instruction is the truth.
143Trouble and anxiety have overcome me;
your commands are my delight.
144Your laws are righteous forever.
Give me understanding that I may live. — Psalm 119:137-144

You’ve probably noticed that these devotionals are coming out late this week. The week has been busy and my schedule has changed repeatedly. I don’t work well with constantly changing things like that. Then yesterday I made a mistake with my account. I thought it was going to cost me in fees. If I had discovered it earlier in the day, I could have fixed it easily, but that wasn’t to be.

So I stewed and spent the afternoon in a bad mood because a rather small error was going to cost me. Somewhat later in the evening I prayed about it. I told the Lord it wasn’t a big thing in the general scheme of things. We’d survive in any case. But it would be so nice not to end up with a stack of fees over such a small error. Well, as it turns out, everything did work, and I was charged no fees. It’s a minor thing, but it’s my miracle for the day.

In our passage the Psalmist talks about “trouble and anxiety” overcoming him. It’s interesting what will actually overcome us. I’m such a good worrier. I do anxiety with the best! I can cook up scenarios for trouble that are truly astonishing in their devastation. The good thing about it is that I’m almost always pleasantly surprised by how little of the disaster I imagined actually takes place.

We all have to experience trouble, but we have some control over the anxiety. Neither the trouble nor the anxiety needs to overwhelm us. There is nothing about your situation or mine that giving up is going to help.

How do we keep to a firm path? God’s instructions, commands, precepts, laws, and judgments. They tell us about God and about who he is. If we understand them, we have no need to be overcome. If we let God’s word into our heart to remake us, we may still have trouble, but it will not overcome us.

The final prayer here is for God to “give us understanding.” We need to understand who God is and how he is working in our lives. Only by doing so will we be able to live.

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