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Singing Psalm 38 when all else fails

when all else fails
Photo by Stefan Spassov

Your own actions fail you, your health fails you, your senses fail you, your plans fail you, and even your family and friends fail you. To whom can you go for help? Will God be with you even when all else fails? Will the Lord seek you even though on paper, you look like a failure, you don’t like being with yourself, and no one else wants to be with you?

Before you can answer those questions, you must know the answer to these questions:

How is God like us, and how is God unlike us? Have you weaned yourself off of dependence on your own righteousness, health, senses, and even your friends? Could it even be that these trials are happening for that very purpose?

People – when all else fails

People tend to write each other off when all else fails, when they see negative history repeat.

But you can become someone who can use a provoking situation to precipitate an illuminating conversation. Someone purposely and admittedly places something on your path with the motive to provoke, trigger, or elicit an angry, irritated, or frustrated response, and instead precipitates a discussion on how God sees the heart behind the action, how the devil tempts in hopes to destroy, and how natural consequences often give a small for taste for how the evil planned for others is turned back onto the one who purposely plans evil against someone else.

The devil doesn’t mind using a small infraction to take this heart, harden it into stone so that it never changes direction, so that the stone grows bigger and harder, setting the stage in this mind to conceive more and more evil. Nothing would make him happier than to set the stage to make people miserable in this life and for all eternity.

When all else fails, you don’t write this person off. You want better for this person because of Jesus. You want this person to come to Jesus who makes it easy to turn from the heavy yoke of evil to his light yoke of gentleness, humility, and rest in hopes that this person would seek to do good to those among whom he lives and works. You want the sadness he is experiencing around the natural consequences to produce good by a transferring of the gods of self to the good and great God who created him and everything else.

You want a heart change, that though he intended to do evil, the Lord would turn him using the very evil he intended and bring about good for him and for many. Your hope is that God would save him from himself, and turn his heart of stone into a heart of flesh. You want for him to love God, care for others, and, aware of his schemes, hate the devil, and his own sinful nature and desires.

God – when all else fails

God can see not only repeat history but also into the heart where he looks for contriteness. Where others might not trust you again, you can trust that God knows the precise moment when you turned from evil to good or where you turned from idolizing the prospect of a good gift he might give you, to worshiping the giver of all good gifts.

You can trust him to not only bring this about in his good time, but to put into play whatever it takes when all else fails to heal you and save you, body and soul. And when you look to Jesus when all else fails, you have all you need to trust him. Your realize you need to look to him first and not wait for when all else fails.

Jesus went through what looked like the biggest failure, death on a cross, to bring about the greatest victory, resurrection life for all that would trust him. Jesus is in the habit when all else fails, of taking your ‘failures’ and using them as breakthroughs and opportunities for bringing about good.

Singing Psalm 38 for hope when all else fails

You can entrust your plans and your reputation to him though now you might be called to endure pain, shame, jeers, taunts, and votes of ‘no confidence’ from those whose opinion you value perhaps more than God’s. You are in the process of weaning yourself off of people’s approval that left you half-starved anyway to real nourishment from the pleasure of your Maker who completely satisfies.

This is a faith-filled process that is in itself an invaluable gift for you to savor when all else fails, and as you ponder the assuredly positive yet unknown outcome, you can laugh at the days to come.

But for you, O Lord, do I wait;

    it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.

For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me,

    who boast against me when my foot slips!” ~ Psalm 38:15-16

April 20, 2022


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