There’s a Psalm for That!
Turn your sighs to worship.
by MICHELE HOWE
I HAD JUST SENT my husband off to work with a “Have a great day!” good-bye when my cell phone chirped a new text message. It was from a dear friend whose sister has been battling cancer and, because of other major health issues, was unable to have the tumor surgically removed. Today’s text? “Please pray for Denise. Her CT scan showed lymph node abnormalities. It looks like her cancer has spread.” I sighed. I prayed. I turned to the Psalms. “In your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures” (Ps. 16:11). I worshiped. Thank You, Lord, for Your promised presence that brings me and my dear ones joy, no matter what circumstances we may face today.
After receiving that heartbreaking text, I got busy with my morning work, yet my mind was still on my friend’s sister when I received an email from a good friend across the country. “Please pray for Jillian. Her surgery begins at 9 a.m., and the surgeon wasn’t hopeful he would be able to help her.” My heart sank. My friend’s daughter, a vibrant young lady in her early 20s, longed to have children, but persistent scar tissue kept hindering her ability to have a child. This surgery — one of many — was her last hope. I sighed. I prayed. I turned again to the Psalms. “Lord, I call on you; hurry to help me. Listen to my voice when I call on you. May my prayer be set before you as incense” (Ps. 141:1-2). I worshiped. Thank You, Lord, that I know You hear me when I cry out to You for help and deliverance!
Little more than an hour later, I answered my phone only to receive more hard news. A single mom from my small group had lost her job to companywide downsizing. She was scared, devastated, and weeping. I sighed. We prayed. Then I opened up God’s Word to the Book of Psalms and read these amazing promises to my friend: “The Lord is my shepherd; I have what I need. He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live” (Ps. 23:1-3,6). We worshiped the Lord together.
If you’re recognizing a common theme to my responses to this particular morning’s difficult news and uncertain life circumstances, you’ll see it’s all about taking refuge in the Psalms. I love the Psalms because most of them tell a story that begins with extreme emotional distress or a dire life-threatening situation, and by the end there is a “but God” response. The psalmists cry out their raging emotions and their depressing, defeating, discouraging, difficult situations to the Lord, completely aware of their great need for Him to intercede on their behalf. And then God enters the picture, and they respond in humble faith, humble gratitude, and humble trust. Time and time again, as we study Psalms, we see that no matter what we are feeling and experiencing in this broken world, there’s a psalm for that! And because of God’s eternal faithfulness to His children, we can worship.
MICHELE HOWE is the author of 25 books to encourage Christians of all ages, including Deliver Us: Finding Hope in the Psalms for Moments of Desperation; Giving Thanks for a Perfectly Imperfect Life; Joyous Faith; Strength for All Seasons; and Empty Nest, What’s Next? She has published more than 3,000 articles, reviews, and curricula and has been interviewed on Focus on the Family several times.