108: When you’re out of your element

Held captive by the Babylonians, the Israelites wondered when they would taste freedom again. They were sick of the oppression, the taunting, the shame. Their captors bid them sing and laugh, when inside the Israelites were broken and in sackcloth and ashes.

Hearts heavy and burdens overwhelming, the Israelites were subjected day in and day out to the merciless provocations of their enemies.

The psalmist describes how the musicians had hung up their harps on the willow trees. They were giving up their passions and praises. It all seemed too much, the effort too great, their stresses too imposing.

Psalm 137:4 asks the question we often keep lodged in our hearts, unspoken to any but ourselves:

“How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”

The Israelites were out of their element. They were being challenged in ways they’d never expected or even thought possible. Persecution and problems seemed to be the foundational substance of their lives.

Although we may not be in physical bondage, we ask God the same question.

How can I praise You when I don’t have a career?

How can I sing Your song when I don’t have any idea what step to take next?

How can I worship You when my loved one was struck down with illness?

The question may never proceed from our lips but its sentiment festers in our hearts. We’ve hung up the calling of the Lord saying we will wait until a better season arrives and our conditions are more favorable.

I love the way The Living Bible translates Ecclesiastes 11:4 saying “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”

Sadness and grief are not sins, but in the hard times let’s remember the God we serve. No matter what life may throw at us, He is still good. He doesn’t change with our circumstances. He is worthy of praises regardless of where we are along life’s journey or how we feel that particular day. His sovereignty isn’t dependent on us.

We may not know what this future season holds, but we can rest in the knowledge that Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, walks with us every step of the way. Allow your hurt and uncertainty to push you even closer into the Father’s arms. Don’t let it be a driving force that separates you and hinders your spiritual growth. Allow Him to teach you, and above all, praise Him in the storm.

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