“Thou carest not to give desert songs, where through the wilds we roam, but a golden psalm hast Thou put in our mouths to sing in our Father’s home.” Frances Bevan, Hymns of Ter Steegan and Others
After nineteen months of walking through loss, I began to see a theme and a pattern: The Psalms has been a hiding place for me. I’ve been drawn to the pain pronounced, the correction communicated, and the healing heralded. So, I decided to walk through each chapter of The Psalms with the thought of journaling through these rich truths.
While serving in Sub Saharan Africa, I learned important aspects of culture through greetings. Many translated greetings literally meant, “I see you.”
People—across cultures—desire to be seen and to be known. To belong. All of us. The most thrilling gift in life is when a person comes face-to-face with the reality that they are seen and known by their Creator and loved by him. Of course, this can also be terrifying. That is why Jesus’ forgiveness is such a gift. The gospel is so good.
One reason I journaled through The Psalms is because throughout my grief I read a multitude of books. Those books were definitely helpful, and I commend the discipline of reading through grief. Reading the story or testimony of other mourners is centering; it gives you balance in a turbulent time. It’s good to know you’re not alone.
However, when it came to the book of The Psalms, those chapters read me. All one-hundred-and-fifty psalms read my heart, my pain, my emotions, and my confusion.
I was seen, known, and loved.
It was as if I was put under a microscope. It was as if God said to me, “I see you.” It was as if God said, “I know you.” It was as if God said, “It’s right for you to feel the depths of despair…I can take your laments.” It was as if God said, “This is when you need to turn to me, and this is when you need to complain to me, and this is when you need to ask of me, but this is also when you need to trust me.” So yes, through grief I read many, many good books. But only one book read me. The oldest book I read, the ancient book of The Psalms, read and understood me.
“…one of the reasons for The Psalms in the Bible is to give us courage to cry and to teach us when to cry…” Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies
It was as if God was saying to me day by day, “I see you, and I know you.”
I know you’ve read The Psalms before, too; however, that’s not good enough. You need to walk through these treasures again and again. The Psalms—like all of the Bible—is a book that is living and active, and it applies to every epoch of your life. It has import in your good times and bad times.
“…God‘s love is the same whether he is putting new gifts into our hands or taking away those we have learned to cherish.” J. R. Miller, The Ministry of Comfort
I have learned this firsthand.
I was cleaning out my office at work well over two years after I lost Kim. I was almost finished writing these entries through each of the one-hundred-and-fifty psalms. The pages of this book of lament had been a part of my healing. The pages in this book of praise had been a part of my worship of the God who is present with me and full of steadfast love throughout my journey. And now, while cleaning my office, I came across a notebook from seminary and two commentaries on The Psalms.
I thought to myself, “I forgot I had studied The Psalms in seminary.” And that’s when this insight came to me: In January 2007, I studied The Psalms in seminary. Shortly after February 18, 2019, The Psalms began to study me. So much so that a mere eighteen months into my unwanted journey, I realized the part these songs of love were playing and decided to journal through every single psalm.
“The moment we recognize the fact that this life is only a training-school to fit us for a coming world, that the Bible is its infallible text-book and the Holy Spirit its instructor and the Lord of glory its all-wise and all-loving Head, then dark things become light, seemingly crooked things become straight, and mysteries become plain.” Theodore Cuyler, God’s Light on Dark Clouds
These pages are timeless. Miraculous. Soothing. Exhilarating. Joy-producing. Faith-building. Constant care on a long journey of recovery. Longer than you expect or want. Committed. Consistent. And healing. And full of steadfast love. Let me say that again: full of steadfast love. A balm for the soul because in these pages you discover the lover of your soul.
The next one-hundred-and-fifty blog entries will walk us through The Psalms. Welcome to Facing Loss Through the Psalms.