Life has trouble. Disappointment is inevitable. Heartache happens. People fail us. The reality of our mortal existence seems bleak, no doubt. Our fallen flesh craves the attention and the self-inflicted martyrdom we claim as victims. We want what we're owed. We demand equality and fairness and justice. Yes, justice. We seek what is rightfully ours.
But I'm also aware of my own ability to fail. My own flaws that cause pain. My ability to hurt and disappoint. Yes, people have hurt me. Yes, situations have happened to me. Yes, I've felt like the victim at times. But what about the disappointment and heartache I've caused my perfect and righteous Father? What about the justice He should be demanding? Oh how I praise Him for not treating us as we deserve! (Psalm 103:10)
Praise. Can I be in this state of hurt and confusion and still offer praise?
"Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name." Psalm 103:1
I admit. Whether I'm feeling guilty for my failures or feeling sorry for myself because of those who have failed me, it is sometimes difficult to praise with all my being. But it's there. Deep down in my soul - the words I have hidden in my heart, the promises I memorized even as a child. A sacrifice of praise, right?
"Praise the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits - " Psalm 103:2
His benefits. Is this why I love God? Is this why I praise God? Is this why I serve Him - to get something in return? Not at all. But it is a promise to me... Wait for it...
"Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases." Psalm 103:3
Oh now I want to jump up and praise Him! His benefits to me - first forgiving me (Oh, thank You, Lord!) and healing me (Praise You, Father!). Not just my "diseases" of the flesh - but the diseases of a frail mind and wounded heart. What a mighty Savior!
"Who redeems your life from the pit..." Psalm 103:4a
Let's pause at the first part of this verse. I've heard Beth Moore say over and over that if God can redeem her life from the pit she was in, then He can redeem anyone. She's not fully disclosed the details of what sent her to that pit - or what sin she had to confess - or what past she had to overcome. But she fully claims the victory in Christ of his redemption. Do I believe God? Do I trust Him to forgive? Sure, I confess and claim forgiveness. But do I claim His rescuing redemption? To be redeemed means I've been bought back, recovered, cleared of my debt. Whatever pit you're in, His redemption is waiting for you. Even you.
"...and crowns you with love and compassion." Psalm 103:4b
Wait. As if forgiveness and redemption weren't enough, He adorns me? Even me. His love is everlasting. His compassion is unfailing. And it's yours and mine to claim.
Let's skip to verse 6: "The Lord works righteoueness and justice for all the oppressed."
There it is. The justice we've so longed for. It's ours to have - only, not ours to seek. It is justice through Him. He redeems us. He rescues us. He loves us. Then He claims justice for us. He brings His righteousness to replace my filthy rags. He restores me to an upright state. What I'm learning is the battle truly isn't mine. He requires my action and my faith and He is at work.
I'm so thankful His justice doesn't repay me according to my iniquities. I'm so thankful He seeks justice for those who seek to destroy my life. It's yours to claim too. His justice is for all. Just as His abounding love (vs. 8) and mercy are for each of us. With all of my being I can praise Him because of these truths.
You've heard it said, "It's always darkest before the dawn." The truth in that statement is best said in this Josh Wilson song:
Once you feel the weight of glory
All your pain will fade to memory
It’s just the hurt before the healing
Oh the pain that you’ve been feeling
It’s just the dark before the morning
Before the Morning - Josh Wilson