The Angst and Peace of the Psalms

The Psalms reveal to us how we are to pray and how God answers our prayers.

The prayer book of the Bible contains the requests and praises from God’s people as they travel the road of life. As we encounter the Psalms, we become aware of the joys and tumults of life—things that open the mouths of God’s people to praise him as well as things that open those same mouths in lament and frustration. The Psalms stand as the open invitation to all to call upon the Lord with raw reality and unfettered hope.

One of the most difficult things for some to do is pray. What should we say to God and how should we say it to him? The Psalms give us a beautiful testament to the freedom we have in our approach to God. Furthermore, the Psalms show us that even during the angst we have in our lives, the peace of God in Christ is always present with us.

Take for example Psalm 69. The psalmist David begins his plea to God with what sounds like hopelessness. He is in danger of drowning. He is weary. His throat is parched. His eyes grow dim. This all happens as he waits for God to save him. David’s situation doesn’t relent. He is aware of the multitude of his enemies and how they attack him to destroy him. He recounts his weeping and humility. He even asserts his consuming zeal to serve the Lord. In all theses situations, his spirit is filled with uncertainty and angst.

Does this sound familiar to you? Do life’s anxieties, pains, and sufferings cause you to question the presence of God in your life? Do you sometimes feel as if your prayers during these trials are going unheard? Do you ever wonder what the point is to pray if God doesn’t seem interested in giving you an answer, a hope, or salvation? All of this can be compounded when we are doing our best to be faithful and obedient to God and his call on our lives.

If we were to stop here, we would certainly be overcome by our angst. But in this same Psalm, we see David grapple with his angst and not stop until peace prevails. The peace of God resounds throughout the Psalm. As David seems to be filled with despair, his constant cry to God is filled with reminders of God’s faithfulness and steadfast love. God is the only one who can deliver him from his tribulation. He looks to no other for his rescue. As the Psalm ends, David is filled with the assurance of God’s power and ability to rescue him. At one point, he cries, “But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high!” Ultimately, in the throes of affliction and with the hope of salvation, David rejoices and worships God for his mighty strength to save. God has given David his word and David trusts in that word regardless of his situation.

In our celebration of the birth of Christ, we must remember that God has given us his Word in the flesh. As we live, we have the hope, love, joy, and peace that can only be given by Christ. May we not neglect to keep our eyes upon Christ no matter how dire our situations. We will have times when we are under attack and seemingly ignored by God. But remember, we are never ignored by God. Jesus is the proof that God is always with us. He took on flesh and encountered the very enemies and angst that we battle. He defeated these threats and gives us his peace. So, as we end one year and begin another, may we never give into our angst and instead embrace the peace we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. “For God will save Zion and build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it; the offspring of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall dwell in it.” In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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