When we cry out to the Lord in the time of some critical or chronic need…what do we want? We want the situation to change. Whatever it is has us controlled, restrained, or limited in some way, and we want God to come to our aid. Psalm 118:5 tells us, “In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered me by setting me free.” In Job 36:16 this idea is repeated that God, in my distress, will set my feet in a spacious place. Now the need may or may not miraculously disappear…but God promises that our minds can be set free from the emotional anguish and misery that have us hemmed in… when we call on Him.
I am my worst critic. I lie in bed at night annoyed with myself that I didn’t accomplish everything I should have. Or I’m aggravated at myself for not speaking up when I could have. I react with self-loathing as I play back the events of the day… as the “I should have, I could have, I would have’s” run in a loop through my mind. What’s so sad is… most times, I’m beating myself up over things no one else even knows about. They’re things that are only important to me…so why am I so perturbed? In a word…it’s guilt. Self-directed anger is fueled by guilt…and it doesn’t need to be guilt heaped on us from someone else…for we can do that all by ourselves! But this guilt-ridden self-anger can be changed by the last few words of this verse…for it says to “search your hearts and be silent. Selah” That means we listen and not speak, allowing the Holy Spirit to whisper truth into our heart and mind. It means then we pause and ponder these truths not allowing our mind to race negatively. It’s positive reinforcement, Holy Spirit style.
Over the course of my career as a nurse I have witnessed death first hand. I have comforted countless families as they maneuver through the uncharted territory of fear, sorrow, and unspeakable anguish. But I’ve also realized that it doesn’t get any easier with a lot of experience. Death of a loved one is a heart crushing encounter full of very personal suffering. And a few weeks ago, I still found myself asking, “Why Lord?”, when a young wife and mother was taken from her two small boys and husband on Christmas Eve. But it’s then, I must remind myself that just because my prayers weren’t answered like I wanted, doesn’t mean that God somehow made a mistake.