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All three psalms deal with the believer’s deeper sorrow and deeper joy. What we must learn is how to pray our sorrows, to sow our tears. Amazingly, our tears, when prayed, can actually reap a harvest of joy. And the sermon we will hear this week is one of my top three favorite Keller sermons — I’ve listened to it at least a dozen times. It’s actually on psalm 126, but has the same theme as these three psalms.

p126-sow-sheavesSunday Icebreaker

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. Do you agree with Keller’s opening quote that the believer experiences deeper sorrow and deeper joy? If so, explain a specific way you have seen that in your life.

Monday: Psalm 30. Joy comes in the morning.

On an earthly level, David is out of the caves of Abdullum and into his own home. He is also anticipating, finally, the building of the temple. His earthly sorrow has been turned to joy. But it is also important to see that David and the temple are types pointing to Christ.

3. Read Psalm 30:1-5 aloud and then answer:

    A. What praise do you find in these verses?

    B. In verses 1-5, how can you see Christ and both the crucifixion and resurrection?

    C. In these verses you can also see how sorrow can actually produce joy. Find it, if you can.

    D. 2 Corinthians 4:17 gives another clue as to how sorrow can actually produce joy. Find it, if you can.

    E. Thank God for how He turned Christ’s sorrow into joy and what it also means for you.

4. Read Psalm 30:6-12 aloud and then answer:

    A. At first I saw primarily David in these verses, but Patrick Reardon points out that in Gethsemane, Jesus did ask that he could be spared “this cup.” How might phrases from this passage illustrate that?

    B. Think of something you asked the Lord to spare you from and He did not. Though you may not yet see the end of the story, what confident hope do you have because of God’s promises?

    C. Thank God for His promises in this situation and ask Him to help you cling to them and remember them.

Tuesday-Wednesday: Psalm 31: My life is spent with sorrow

This is a lament, and we see it in the words of Job, Jonah, Jeremiah, and Jesus. We can quote it too, when we lament. The lament is the way to stay close to God when you don’t see the end of the story, when He has not yet turned your mourning into dancing. You are honest with God, telling him how your truly feel. That opens the way for dialogue. In most of the psalms of lament as is true in this one, it ends with a resolution to praise and trust the Lord despite the fact that the psalmist is still waiting.

5. Take either Job or Jeremiah, if you can, and describe their sorrows.

6. Read Psalm 31 in its entirety and find a passage that illustrates:

    A. The psalmist’s trust in God

    B. The psalmist’s longing for God to hear him

    C. The psalmist’s pain and feeling of being forgotten

    D. The psalmist’s resolve to trust the Lord

Verse 15 reminds me of a song Kathy Troccoli wrote that has always ministered to me. I remember Kathy singing this to Steve in our home during his illness — Steve in his chair, eyes closed. Him thanking her gently afterwards.

    E. How can verse 14 minister to you when God is doing things as you hoped?

    F. The psalmist, in verse 22 remembers another time when he felt forgotten, yet God came. Can you remember a time like that in your life so you can use it to speak to your soul?

7. Whatever pain you are going through right now, lament, using this psalm to help you pray your tears.

8. Read Psalm 31 in its entirety and if any part of this lament quickens you, stop and meditate. Share here.

Thursday: Psalm 32: Tears of Repentance

confession-and-the-transparent-life-jpegI think a big reason that this blog ministers is your transparency. Being real with one another and with God — not pretending to have it all together when we don’t — but then also, truly repenting. The U-Turn.

9. Read Psalm 32:1-4 and list reasons why it is important to keep short accounts with the Lord.

10. How do you make a habit of confession?

11. Read Psalm 32:5-7 and list the blessings of sincere repentance.

12. Listen to Sara Groves sing “Hiding Place” above and then, in prayer:

A. Confess the ways you are broken

B. Recall the Words He has spoken that show His love for you

C. Allow Him to fill your heart with songs of deliverance

13. Read Psalm 32:8-9 and find the promise and condition.

14. Come to Him now with a problem in your life and let Him teach you. Be still and listen –have a play-dough heart.

15. How does this psalm end?

Friday: Keller free sermon: Praying your Tears (This is actually on Psalm 126, but a similar theme to Psalms 30, 31, and 32): LINK

16. Share your notes and thoughts.


17. What’s your take-a-way and why?



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  1. Questions:   I just listened to Midday Connection again  — Dee on Idol Lies.  I’ve had a theory/questions about idols floating around in the back of my mind, and listening helped me start to clarify my questions.  I’m suspecting that there is more to some idols than I thought; i.e., theory is that idols might not be what they seem.  For example, I recognize and have recognized (kinda hard to ignore) that I have a control idol.  I had thought that maybe approval wasn’t as powerful an idol for me.  I’m not sure that I can explain well yet, but I’ve had some hints that I do crave approval.  Although this seems odd because I usually say what I think (people don’t approve & I’m fine), I think approval is a bigger idol than I thought.  And God is showing me — in funny ways, with a sense of humor — that something else is there.
    I’m wondering if allowing God to remove some bricks from my walls of self-protection is revealing other idols — and if I usually use control to keep my walls up??  Ironically, other walls are necessary now due to some life situations — but they don’t have the same emotional power; they seem more like normal boundaries.   Although I am seeing signs of seeking approval that I might have attributed to control before, my approval idol was diffused through the SoS study — and it’s not as overwhelming to examine other idols.   Is it possible that the approval idol could show up in the form of wanting to meet some unattainable vague standards I have set for myself — but haven’t dared acknowledge, i.e., self-approval?  These vague standards are always more, better, etc than what I am doing now — not necessarily specific.  In understanding His complete and thorough love for me, it’s better — but I do see some symptoms.
    #12 has been part of thinking about these questions, so maybe it will help me answer them 🙂
    12. Listen to Sara Groves sing “Hiding Place” above and then, in prayer:
    A. Confess the ways you are broken      Lord God, I am so broken, and I see my brokenness more as my walls come down.  I am afraid of being hurt by others.  I reject myself or hurt myself first so that others can’t hurt me, maybe not as overtly as in the past, but the roots still are there.  If I already know I am pathetic, I don’t give others the power to hurt me.  I cut you out of my life when I live this way.  This is SO contrary to who I am in you.  I have rejected you by becoming my own judge.  Rather than seeking you and acknowledging that, in you, I am perfect & loved, I hide and look for excuses for not meeting standards that I don’t even want to meet. Forgive me for making a mockery of you by setting standards for myself when you already have set and met THE standard.
    B. Recall the Words He has spoken that show His love for you

    Jer 31:  “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built…”
    Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
    I John 4 “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
    Hebrews 10 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

    C. Allow Him to fill your heart with songs of deliverance
    Oh God, you REALLY ARE MY REFUGE … so much safer, so much more than a cave with an entrance for lions & tigers & bears.  You are my shelter, my protection.  You SURROUND me.   You have cleansed me, and you have met the standard, paid the price, and I am redeemed.   Thank you that in You, I am clean. I have met the standard. Thank you for freeing me.

  2. Something else I am learning about idols and myself:  I was trying to figure out which idol is reflected in my late night cell phone news reading.  I smiled at the example Dee gave on Midday Connection when she said the answer is not a better alarm clock; if I don’t have access to my cell phone at night, I will need a different alarm clock in the morning 🙂    I was comparing my cell phone reading to the our Secret Agent‘s example of political shows & pie.  Just not sure.    He has shown me that I can relax and STOP trying to figure everything out.  I’ll ask him to show me.  It’s not as if I have to get rid of the idol or he will zap me.  Identifying idols from the viewpoint of being redeemed and loved is an entirely different approach.  

    1. Renee, if I may offer my realization with smart phone usage. I used to be terrible about it. I kept trying to figure our which idol it was and then something my behavioral therapist friend said made me think hard. She talks about kids having escape behavior, that they don’t want to do what is asked of them so they do behavior to escape it – escape behavior. And I thought that is what I am doing! But what am I escaping from? I just wanted to escape life – to do something easy, to be distracted from all these thoughts and challenges I face in my daily struggles. To escape. Not that my life was terrible, but it certainly isn’t easy! There were some times that I would look up from my phone and kinda have to shake my head to ‘come back to reality’ having escaped to something else (reading, articles was my biggest thing).  I don’t know if that helps but I thought I would share. I think mine is comfort, escaping to be comfortable because life is just hard sometimes. By putting my phone down I as forced to start making choices that He wanted me to (little things in every day life) and forced to seek Hm for my ‘escape’ only it wasn’t escape then it was embracing Him in the life He gave me. O. I am babbling now, sorry. Praying for realization for you, friend. 

      1. Thanks, Jill — I think it is escape behavior — that became habit.  What’s weird is I do it even when I am extremely tired and want to sleep — just like a little kid who needs a nap or to go to bed at night and can’t keep his or her eyes open.  “Escape life” is descriptive — I have used books that way & and short useless (or useful, too) articles on the cell phone are less of a commitment.  It is those little things in everyday life that are some of the biggest challenges for me — so it might be comfort, even though that is not the specific time I am using my phone.  Thank you 🙂   Will continue to pray and ponder.

    2. Is Midday Connection found online?   I’m assuming it’s a radio program?  

      1. Yes, it’s online — through Moody radio.  Should come up if you google Midday Connection, Moody, Dee Brestin & Idol.  

    3. Just my two cents worth.  I’m still using a dumb phone and for me, I prefer it but I don’t have work related things to need it for….and I’m clearly ‘in the dark’ about news events (that I once watched 4 times a day on TV and now I almost never see!  I’ve been a news junkie most of my life…..and I actually don’t miss it).     I’ve seen articles and stories about how all the LED lights we have attached to electronics next to our beds (computers, phones, ipads, alarm clocks etc) emit lights that interfere with sleep.  This seems legit but I surely don’t know.  I always put a dark cloth over my alarm and hide anything else out of view.  My daughter told me she slept SO well the other night because she just (randomly) decided to take all electronics out of her room.  I keep my cell phone on at night because I know that’s the way my kids would try to reach me if there’s an emergency and I’ve told them to do that.   But I try to leave it in reach but with no light showing.  This is probably not helpful or relevant to the ‘reading’ part of your question.   But I wondered about the ‘sleep’ part.  

      1. Yeah, the sleep part is why I quit using my cell phone at night before.  I sleep like a rock without it (and even sometimes with it).  But if I’m going to read before sleeping, the cell phone is so convenient because I don’t need to use the lamp!  I sometimes read books on there, too.    The one reason I do like it is because it is the only news I see/hear (no radio, TV, or news sites on Internet).  It started out fine, and I like some of the apps because I can identify/request news on specific topics (e.g., aging).    But I don’t have to read the news on EVERYTHING — and occasionally, I do read EVERYTHING.  I probably could set a couple brief times during daytime hours to glance at the news.  I primarily use my cell phone during the day for calls or other computers don’t work.

        The challenge is that if all I do is try to eliminate stuff, something else will replace it:  I very very rarely play games on my computer (maybe once every year or two); in grad school, prior to the Internet, I took solitaire off the computer — stayed up all night playing stupid solitaire!!  Last night, I replaced the cell phone (at first) with reading my Bible (not on the cell phone — I often use my smart phone for Bible, especially when traveling).  At least, I wasn’t as interested in the phone after that.   But I could stay up all night or hide all day reading books, too.  At least I don’t do that with my cell phone 🙂   Probably not ready to cut books out of my life  😀    although in the big picture, they’ve been a bigger “problem” — even good books (maybe not enough of a problem recently though!).   haha — when I was in grade school, my mom was concerned about all the homework I had and talked to the teacher.  I had homework because I spent time in school reading library books.   SO, if this is still the reason I read, I have a mega-comfort idol.

        Though it might not be smart to sleep with my cell phone (!), I’m guessing that ditching it isn’t the best response — any more than stopping food intake cures an eating disorder.  But I will pray and ponder whether escape has become a comfort idol . And now I have a conference call on the thing. (I do like the convenience!)

        1. All understandable, Renee.   You use a phone for a million more things than I do and for lots of good reasons.   I do still carry heavy books with me wherever I go….which gets to be a lot!   There are advantages to electronics to be sure!  (Since I started this blog,  I’ve watched TV (news or otherwise) extremely rarely.  Almost never.  Not that I watched a lot before….but I did keep up with news.  And a few oldies or PBS gems.   Now the blog takes a huge chunk of my screen time.   Balance is always a struggle in so many ways for me.  Sometimes, I spend too much time doing this!  And I miss some ‘getting out in the world’ stuff.  

        2. Wanda,  the concept of balance is easy for me.  I just gave up and decided to live with imbalance ;)And my “no TV” is because I didn’t watch it enough to justify cost of cable/satellite.  In the summer, when there are leaves on the trees and when it is cloudy, I get no stations.  Ha— unplugged dvd player months ago when I had to move something; I actually would watch a couple movies if it weren’t such a pain to figure out how to reconnect it.  So, my “tv” is online — too much.   One thing I love about summer is that when I’m gone, I spend time off the computer and don’t miss it — except this blog 😉    The good news is that I usually can get enough cell phone reception to read it.  And the bible app  is stored on the phone (I think) rather than online, so I almost always have it.  What’s made me most dependent on the phone is that I prefer not to check luggage when I fly TO someplace — and I probably couldn’t live from a small carry on for a week if I brought books:)   (And if I bring books home, I check the luggage!)

        3. PS…I love that your mom talked to your teacher about all your homework that was due to you reading library books in school!   In my experience, those addictive young readers are always the deepest thinkers!  Or the most creative.  

      2. I love this conversation! I live on my smart phone, although I mostly have it to keep up with my kids. I also found that my son and I could actually have nice conversations instead of arguments if we texted instead of talked (didn’t work for me and Sarah; we argue over text messages!). These days I use it for this blog/bible, and keeping up with the news. I am also a news junkie Wanda, and my husband and I decided to get rid of cable almost a year ago. I am now starting to have withdrawals because I know the election season is coming! My parents were pretty “edumacted” and both had opposing viewpoints on politics, which made for extremely lively discussions in the seventies! I swore I would never be “into” politics, but am so glad my parents taught me to be an informed citizen. My mom used to write letters; I have the White House and all our senators/congressmen programmed on the phone. I know a lot of people  who use the phone for Facebook. I’m not much of a FB person, but I know the world is going that way. I am also like Renee and read on the phone at night. I have the same trouble sleeping as I always have with or without the phone! So goes the phone situation! One of my favorite uses though, is my map. I never get lost now 🙂

        1. Laura.  I ALWAYS get lost.  (Renee knows this about me 🙂 ) It’s my identity to be completely lost.  (I should probably have a microchip inserted!)  if I’m anywhere near the city (I’m a country girl at heart) I’m a train wreck trying to drive anywhere….My kids think I may even be more confused if I had a GPS!  Ha!  I’m pretty retro when it comes to most things.  Takes me a long time to join the technology that most people had a decade before!   Fun to hear how we’re different and yet the same….:)   

        2. My name is Kerryn, and I have nomophobia! I have been known to turn around and go home if I’ve left my smart phone at home. Yes, I sleep with my phone next to my bed… it is my alarm clock, but the habit really started when I was rostered on call. I still occasionally get calls from work, but as I’m not officially on call, there would be no problem if I didn’t answer the phone at night. Like Wanda, I like to know the kids can contact me.
          As I was dropping my daughter at the train station, she asked me to take her home to get her phone. I refused (a 20 minute round trip, and I needed to go to work). She protested “you don’t like to be without your phone”. It’s true. I have a double standard.

  3. 13. Read Psalm 32:8-9 and find the promise and condition.   Promise:  He will instruct, teach, counsel me   Condition:  understand, stay near to him 
    14. Come to Him now with a problem in your life and let Him teach you. Be still and listen –have a play-dough heart.  in process
    15. How does this psalm end?   Rejoicing in Him & his steadfast love.

  4. 11. Read Psalm 32:5-7 and list the blessings of sincere repentance.       forgiveness of guilt.   protection from the mighty waters (of guilt? of general trouble?)   Verse 7 says that the godly are surrounded with songs of deliverance.  
    12. Listen to Sara Groves sing “Hiding Place” above and then, in prayer:
    A. Confess the ways you are broken     O, Lord.  I am broken.  I am broken simply when I think that I am not.  I am broken when I look at the ungodly behavior of other believers and think that I am superior.  I am broken when I let that kind of behavior so agitate me that I allow disdain for that person to prevail in my thinking and I do not control my tongue and instead I ‘vent’ to someone else about that person which really becomes ‘unwholesome talk’ that I know is not right.  I am broken when I am impatient with the flaws of others and I don’t even see (or choose to ignore) my own flaws.  “Redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth”   Let me see the truth of myself and turn from my wicked ways.
    B. Recall the Words He has spoken that show His love for you
    “I have loved you with an everlasting love’     (Jeremiah 31)   “He tends to his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.  He gently leads those that have young.” (Is. 40: 11)  “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15)  “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus….who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing…..” (Phil 2)   “We love Him because He first loved us.”   “And he has given us this command; whoever loves God must also love his brother”  (I John 4)
    C. Allow Him to fill your heart with songs of deliverance

  5. 13. Read Psalm 32:8-9 and find the promise and condition.      He promises to instruct us and guide us so we know which way to go.  He promises to counsel us and to watch over us.   (What more could we ask?)  
    The condition is that we allow him to control us.  We need to submit to his leading and have a teachable heart to follow him.  If we are arrogant and think we can do it on our own, we will be subject to the imposed obedience as a horse with a bit and bridle……which I think could take many forms when speaking of humans and God’s discipline.


  7. Happy late Birthday to Renee….jill…
    And Elizabeth!!!

    Sorry for the duplicate!

  8. 9.  Reasons to keep short accounts with God:   Do I want a blessed (truly happy) life?  Or do I want to live groaning under the hand of the Lord’s discipline (Hebrews 12:6…..)?  Do I want to cover (hide) my sins or allow God to cover (BLOT OUT!!!) my sins?   Do I want to live in chains or in freedom?  The contrast is crystal clear throughout scripture, and certainly here in this Psalm.
    10. How do you make a habit of confession?  Ouch.  I do not “make a habit” of confession.  I am finding, even this week, “pockets” of hidden sin and rebellion……I am seeing again and again how hard I work to justify myself rather than falling on my face before my loving Father, who only wants LIFE for me.  Abundant life.  I do find, however, that the more time I spend in scripture, the more my heart moves toward confession……..I mentioned earlier that I have returned to memorizing the Word (in very small bites!)…..I find that as I go about my day, reciting the Word ……I DO begin to confess……it seems no matter what portion of scripture I’m working on , it is a mirror to my soul……..and I do “see” my sin and rebellion and confess at those times………
    11.  List the blessings of sincere repentance:      God is a hiding place…….preserves from trouble (?)…..surrounds with shouts of deliverance (!)…..wow…..what would it look like to walk through TODAY with an awareness of the Lord of the Universe SURROUNDING ME with shouts of deliverance?  This thought from His Word is so worth pondering throughout the day……….how that would change the way I see the daily details of life…..the heartaches and disappointments……
    12.  Confess the ways I’m broken:   I think I’ve settled into a season of malaise in some ways……a season of prayerlessness……I’ve been focusing on the seen and not the unseen……over the past 2 years – 3 people who were on my “top ten” prayer list for salvation died.  As far as I know – and I DON’T know of course – they died without a saving relationship with Christ.  They all died quite suddenly.  I’ve been rattled to the core in the wake of this.  In each case, when I turned to the back of my Bible and noted the date of death next to the beloved one’s name……Kevin, Abel, Ishmael………I cried out “Lord, Lord……??”  Well.  Yes.  I’m broken.                Recall the words he has spoken that show his love for you:  Zephaniah 3:17 came to mind……though I know this is a prophecy for a time in the future, yet this is our God……and his heart for his children……his heart for me……singing over me for joy!  How can this be????        Allow him to fill your heart with songs of deliverance:  
    13.  Promise/condition from verses 8&9:  God WILL instruct, lead and counsel me.  BUT…..I must NOT BE like a stubborn mule!  What a great picture…….so wonderful that his Word gives us LAUGHTER even in the very serious business of seeing our own rebellion.  That is no laughing matter……but if I can remember to see the stubborn mule, well, I can see how very FOOLISH holding on to my own “way” truly is!  
    14.  Come with a problem…….my takeaway from this is “have a play dough heart”…….I think of Ezekiel 36:26…….
    15.  How does this Psalm end?   Be glad in the Lord…..shout for joy!   I think of the words you have at the top of this blog, Dee.  LOVE them……”Is it possible ……to experience God…..in a place like this?”     So…….I CAN be glad in the Lord……and shout for joy……in a place like this!!

    1. ..I find that as I go about my day, reciting the Word ……I DO begin to confess……it seems no matter what portion of scripture I’m working on , it is a mirror to my soul……..and I do “see” my sin and rebellion and confess at those times………

      Jackie…..I have seen this happening to me also!  His word is illuminating.  A lamp to our feet and a light to our path.  Which means showing us what needs to be uprooted and taken out along the way too.  Thanks for expressing it so clearly.  

    2. Jackie, I am so sorry to hear of your three friends sudden deaths. How sad you must feel. Even though they may not have been believers, perhaps you stood in the void for them. Maybe your actions helped your friends and you didn’t know what influence you had on them.  I don’t know, but maybe God had mercy on your friends because you were praying for them.

  9. 4. Read Psalm 30:6-12 aloud and then answer:
    A. At first I saw primarily David in these verses, but Patrick Reardon points out that in Gethsemane, Jesus did ask that he could be spared “this cup”. How might phrases from this passage illustrate that?
    I see the feeling of being unsettled and fearful begin in verse 7, “But when you hid your face, I was dismayed.” In verse 6 the psalmist has just described when he felt secure and standing firm, but now things are starting to slip out of control. Jesus could’ve felt this way in Gethsemane as He knew the worst was about to begin. Then in verses 8-10, I do see how these cries could have been in Jesus’ conversation with His Father that night…“What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear…and be merciful to me; O Lord, be my help.”
    B. Think of something you asked the Lord to spare you from and He did not. Though you may not yet see the end of the story, what confident hope do you have because of God’s promises?
    I don’t know if I ever asked God to spare me or my family from tragedy, but I know I never wanted to experience it. Maybe the asking is in those prayers we pray, “God, keep ____safe and please don’t let _____happen.” But the worst happened when my 21 year old nephew died tragically of a drug overdose. It took a long time after that to work through what I really believed about God. Dee’s God of All Comfort was a tremendous help to me to learn that God didn’t stop being God. He promises to always love us no matter what, and because Jesus took the punishment for our sin, God is not angry. It’s hard to hold onto God’s promises when you are hurting and grieving and your emotions are telling you to despair and give up. I have the confident hope that I haven’t seen the end of the story but God is the Author of all of our stories and He doesn’t make mistakes with our lives.
    C. Thank God for His promises in this situation and ask Him to help you cling to them and remember them.
    Lord, You know how dearly I want to avoid feeling pain and grief-I don’t like to feel that way. Yet I know that I will lose more people that I love and I think one of my biggest fears is to be all alone, with no one to love and no one to love me. Help me to always remember that I have You, and that You should be first in my life always and above all others. You give me gifts in other people, yet I am not to love your gifts more than You. I get into trouble when I look to others as my “saviors” and as my meaning and purpose for living. You have loved me with an everlasting love and You have made me for Yourself and You desire my affection…You call to me to come away with You to higher places and yes, that includes suffering but You promise to never leave me nor forsake me. Thank Your for being the truest Lover of my soul.

    1. That is a beautiful prayer, Susan.  I remember so clearly, after my dad died, thinking……’I have to go through this again?’  the grief was so heavy…..I could not see how I could live through another.  Your prayer strikes a chord with me too.  

  10. 5. Take either Job or Jeremiah, if you can, and describe their sorrows.
    Jackie did an awesome post on Job…I’ll keep mine short! Job was a man truly blessed in every way with family, health, and prosperity. One day, Satan challenged God that Job only loved God because of what God did for Him. God allowed Satan to bring havoc into Job’s life. Job lost all of his children, all of his belongings (livestock and wealth) and finally his health. His wife was of no comfort, telling him to curse God and die. Then his friends came and offered their advice, which seemed to suggest that Job had sinned in some way and was being punished by God. Job began to despair even of life, wishing that he had never been born.
    6. Read Psalm 31 in its entirety and find a passage that illustrates:
    A. The psalmist’s trust in God – “Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.” verse 3. Also, verse 4-5, “…for you are my refuge, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
    B. The psalmist’s longing for God to hear him – “Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue” verse 2. “Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress” verse 9.
    C. The psalmist’s pain and feeling of being forgotten – “Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors; I am a dread to my friends, those who see my on the street flee from me. I am forgotten by them as though I were dead, I have become like broken pottery.” (verses 11-12)
    D. The psalmist’s resolve to trust the Lord – “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, You are my God, my times are in your hands…” verse 14-15.

  11. E. How can verse 14 minister to you when God is doing things as you hoped?
    When life seems out of control, when bad things happen, when life or people disappoint me, letting me down, I can say, “BUT I trust in You, O Lord…” He asks me to look at Him, not at my circumstances, because in His eyes I will always see the love He has for me. When I am acting like a stubborn child who wants her own way and throws a tantrum when I don’t get my own way, “…You are my God” reminds me that I am not “god”, or that I have made something else my god and so I’m upset when it lets me down.
    F. The psalmist, in verse 22 remembers another time when he felt forgotten, yet God came. Can you remember a time like that in your life so you can use it to speak to your soul?
    The psalmist remembers a time when he, feeling alarmed, cried out “I am cut off from your sight!” Then he remembers that God heard his cry when he called to Him for help. I remember several years ago I had to have major surgery, and I prayed and asked God to please be with me in the operating room. It turned out that a friend of mine from college, who was a nurse in the hospital where I had my surgery (and she only worked two days a week) “just happened” to be working that day and “just happened” to be assigned to my room and I knew she was a Christian. She came to see me while I was still in pre-surgery and asked me if I felt comfortable with her being in the operating room since she knew me (if I had any concerns due to privacy) and I said no, I am so glad you will be in there with me! As they were putting me to sleep, she held my hand and whispered in my ear that she would be praying for me during my surgery.

    1. Love your story about the surgery, Susan.  So sweet. 

    2. Susan–your surgery story is such a great example of His swooping in–arriving on the White Horse. I pray you’ll let that be a reminder that He will never let you be alone–to wipe away your fears in #4 (C). Yes, you have Him–but you are also so loved, so love-able, He will take care of your loneliness.

    3. So sweet Susan! I have tears in my eyes…..

    4. Loved that story too Susan…God had it all planned!

  12. Kerryn……Praying for you this morning (your evening)  as you will be doing your street ministry in a few hours.  Yesterday, I thought of you when I read Psalm 32:8…….   As you go out, may He …’instruct and teach you in the way you should go.  May he counsel you and watch over you’….. that you may be the hands and feet of Jesus.  

    1. Wanda, Psalm 32:8…”He …’instruct and teach you in the way you should go. May he counsel you and watch over you’….. that you may be the hands and feet of Jesus.” …how fitting…I will use it in my prayers for Kerryn. I figure the time that Kerryn will be doing street ministry should be roughly 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. central standard time.

    2. Thanks for the reminder Wanda, I will pray also.

      1. Kerryn, Wondering how your street ministry was…  Hope you’re sleeping now 😉

        1. Thank you for your prayers; God’s spirit of peace prevailed and we had a very quiet night – but a cold one. The clouds disappeared, so it was a clear, cold night. At one point security evicted an intoxicated girl from a nightclub – by herself. It’s quite a vulnerable situation for the girl and quite concerns me. I’ve asked our supervisor if perhaps we could give the security people our phone no so they could call us if they put a girl out and her friends don’t want to go with her. Anyway, we gave her water and kept an eye on her… she wouldn’t let us get her a taxi home, and ended up walking off. At least she’d sobered up a little by then and was walking in a straight line. We prayed that she’d get home safely.

        2. Thanks for updating us, Kerryn.  What a caring ministry that is.  

        3. Glad you had a quiet night, Kerryn.  When you posted before, I was thinking about the situation here when bars close — that they could use a chaplain on the “drunk bus” (in place so people don’t drive.  It has a more official name, but I’m familiar with student vocabulary).  They are very vulnerable and despite reports of what happens to some, many feel invincible (combination of alcohol and being young).  Your report helps me pray with more clarity for my students.

        4. Thank you for all the interest and prayers for this ministry. This is a link to the street chaplains’ newsletter, with more information about what we do.
          And the website… http://www.streetchaplain.com/what-is-a-street-chaplain/

    9. Read Psalm 32:1-4 and list reasons why it is important to keep short accounts with the Lord. It says by confessing we rid our spirit of deceit, when we keep silent we loose strength, we suffer day and night and His heavy hand is upon us. When we confess we are blessed. 
    10. How do you make a habit of confession? I am convicted by this question. At first, I thought I am always confessing to the Lord, which in some ways is true, but there is a difference in realizing sin in my heart and confessing it. Sometimes I get so focused on realizing there is sin – o! I need to change that – that I forget to confess…forget to confess? Sounds silly to me saying it ‘out loud.’ Of course I should turn to confession with each realization of turning away from Him.  This convicts me. 
    11. Read Psalm 32:5-7 and list the blessings of sincere repentance.  When I repent I am forgiven (hallelujah!).  He becomes my refuge when I repent. He also becomes joyful with me “You surround me with songs of deliverance.”
    I wanted to say, in regards to transparency: I think the atmosphere effects how transparent I am willing to be. I don’t mind being transparent so much but if I am misunderstood then I will likely remember the people who misunderstood me and not feel comfortable sharing openly with them. That is what is beautiful on this blog. When a sister shares sin, she is supported, but also pointed to Christ. We do not justify each other but point to our ultimate justification and His beauty. No one believes themselves to be better or more with it we all need Christ and that looks different in each of our lives with different idols, etc. but we all need Him more and more each and every day. 

    1. Jill,   “Amen”  to your last paragraph!

      1. Deanna, Amen to your Amen to Jill’s post!

        1. amen to the amen to the amen!  (in the church I grew up with the ‘threefold amen’ was part of the liturgy 🙂 )  I went back to your post when I read the multiple amens Jill and I also love this: 

           He becomes my refuge when I repent. He also becomes joyful with me “You surround me with songs of deliverance.”

          So good.  I don’t often think of how joyful the Lord is.  with us!   But you are so right.  Plenty of scripture to back that up.

  14. 14. Come to Him now with a problem in your life and let Him teach you. Be still and listen –have a play-dough heart.
    I did this last night just before I went to bed. Just wanted to share that the ‘problem’ I chose to talk to God about was a very immediate one.  Something that was happening right then, that I thought would cause me to have a very restless night.  I gave it to the Lord (as Deanna wrote about in her post of committing everything out of her control to him before bedtime) and I prayed ‘Into your hands I commit my spirit. Redeem me O Lord, the God of truth’.  from Psalm 31.   I so need my worry and fears (often irrational in the middle of the night) to be redeemed and for God to speak the truth to me and for me to speak the truth to my soul.   I slept like a baby.   🙂   And the problem I had prayed about all worked out very well. 🙂  “You are my God.  I trust in You.”   Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer.  Help me to trust You even when things don’t work out.  Even when there are sleepless nights.  For I know that you are always with me.  Amen.
    Reminds me of the plaque I have that says ‘Before you go to bed at night, give your troubles to God.  He will be up all night anyway’  🙂 

    15. How does this psalm end?  With assurance that God’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trust in Him.  In contrast, it says that many are the woes of the wicked.  I don’t think it means that the righteous have no woes, for we know that isn’t true.  But the contrast comes in that we are surrounded by the presence of the Lord…..through the woes, the fears the worries, the pain.  He is our God.  We trust in Him.  
    It ends with rejoicing!  An exhortation to rejoice.  Be glad.  And Sing!  

    1. Wanda,  I loved this:   Reminds me of the plaque I have that says ‘Before you go to bed at night, give your troubles to God.  He will be up all night anyway’  🙂 
      So cute and also makes a very good point!

  15. The sermon is EXCELLENT.  I listened last night & didn’t take notes.  Will listen again and take notes.  I’m so thankful that God works in my heart as I sleep and for this Bible Study and God’s timing, the way he speaks to me through these studies.  Big breakthrough over night.

    1. Renee, so wonderful to hear! Me too!  For the past 5 years or so.  I need so many more breakthroughs! I was thinking after I posted this morning..how minute this breakthrough was-how OBVIOUS-How babyish..I should have this down by now! Yet I concur with Isaiah at least a little bit-when I gaze at the Gospel again-woe is me..I am undone! I see how desperate I am-how frail, and I am not beating up on myself-but when I see Him..His beauty-His Holiness, His love..the truth is I need Him daily- and the Hallelujah part is that HE ISN’T ALOOF-HE IS HERE WITH ME!!!! 

      1. Rebecca, Such a good reminder — that we WILL be undone when we see Him, and the “solution” isn’t to beat ourselves up but to continue to be WITH HIM.

  16. 11. Read Psalm 32:5-7 and list the blessings of sincere repentance.
    Forgivness of the guilt of sin.
    The “rising of the waters” won’t reach those who confess and repent. I suppose this means when troubles are present, it won’t get too bad?
    There will be protection and deliverance.
    13. Read Psalm 32:8-9 and find the promise and condition.
    God will teach and counsel me on the right path. I must not be stubborn in my learning. Or I may miss something important.
    15. How does this psalm end?
    With a joyous exclamation.

  17. 12. Listen to Sara Groves sing “Hiding Place” above and the, in prayer:
    A. Confess the ways you are broken. 
    God, I am broken, completely. I try so hard to hold all the pieces together to look the way it “should” and yet when I release it all, letting the pieces fall, and hold my hands open, that is when You bless me, that is when You come to me. When I take my eyes off of how I have made a mess and instead look to Your beauty You fill me, impossibly, because my broken shape can hold nothing, and yet You do, You fill me. Lord, forgive my trying, forgive me my unbelief, forgive my arrogance in thinking I can stop the brokenness (and by such stop Your process?), forgive my disobedience. Even now God my heart is tumultuous in the things that are hard. Things that I just want fixed. I am shallow and selfish. My eyes are broken as I do not see You first in all circumstances, instead I let frustration cloud my way and my heart. 
    B. Recall the Words He has spoken that show His love for you. 
    Over the mountains, over the sea, here you come running, my lover to me. 
    Song of Solomon “…show me your face,let me hear your voice;for your voice is sweet,and your face is lovely.” 
    “You are altogether lovely.”
    in my weakness He is made strong. 
    C. Allow Him to fill your heart with songs of deliverance
    Psalm 31:7-8 I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
    for you saw my afflictionand knew the anguish of my soul.
    You have not given me into the hands of the enemy
    but have set my feet in a spacious place. 

    1. Jill,  Beautiful, play-dough heart prayer. The following sentence especially speaks to me.

      I try so hard to hold all the pieces together to look the way it “should” and yet when I release it all, letting the pieces fall, and hold my hands open, that is when You bless me, that is when You come to me.

      Thanks for sharing the Ps 31 verses — so good to read this morning.
      Your post reminded me of Song of Solomon by Jesus Culture  http://youtu.be/S2urjlelpuM

  18. 13. Read Psalm 32:8-9 and find the promise and condition. God will instruct and teach but we must not be stubborn. 
    14. Come to Him now with a problem in your life and let Him teach you. Be still and listen –have a play-dough heart. Be honest without trying to manipulate. To trust the outcome to Him. 
    15. How does this psalm end? Rejoice and sing!

  19. 8. Read Psalm 31 in its entirety and if any part of this lament quickens you, stop and meditate. Share here.
    He quickened me in verse 3-10-but verse 10 really quickened me along with Dee on Midday yesterday. He tied it all together for me. V4  Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. V6-13 are a great description of what Idols do to us!  Idols cause affliction on me-want to destroy me when I take refuge in them vs. how God sets my feet in a broad place and doesn’t allow my enemies to destroy me when I take refuge in him. On Midday yesterday Dee passionately said-and this is verbatim,  “Idols bring pain-they demand a propitiation just like those gods of old in the Old testament. They’ll take part of your life, part of your heart. They’ll take your relationships, they’ll take your health and yet we belong to a God who was a propitiation for us who was cut to pieces for us so why would we run to idols when we have that kind of a God who wants to be everything in our lives.” -OH THAT MELTED ME AGAIN THIS MORNING-God brought it to mind as i was in this Psalm and when I got to v 10! “For my life is spent with sorrow,  and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. and V11-13- THIS IS JESUS being beaten, cast aside, avoided even by Peter-Jesus’ soul was in anguish over sin-much greater than the physical pain.
    Going back to what Dee said- that HE took on the destruction my idols bring.  He willingly was cut to pieces by my idols on the cross for me because He loves me, a girl who doesn’t deserve it, so deeply. How can I serve my idols-the inflictors of indescribable anquish on Jesus on the cross-the very destroyers of my soul and not run to Him with abandonment-all my affections on Him, daily LETTING HIM BE EVERYTHING TO ME. the one who redeemed my soul-can He not redeem me from my idols every day? Can I not trust Him to fill that spot when I let go? 
    God restored intimacy with me via Idol Lies when I was in that LONG awful desert time 5 or so years ago-it was steep-more than just forgetting for a day-but it was a real desert time that lasted for years. Yet what I experience now rather than a total loss of intimacy are the rocks in the stream! Dee is right..we are blind even though he has removed our blinders when we come to know Him-I am still blind to my dark twisty heart and I need Him every moment of every day -His word and other believers.  Yet I can easily try to serve two masters-HE was cut to pieces for me and took on the destruction my idol dishes out to me..because He wants to be everything to me. I so needed this.

  20. Just finished reading Robin Jones Gunn’s book, Victim of Grace.  (Sorry, but I cannot turn off my italics.)  She talks about the need to focus on God’s will, recognizing that He is in charge, even when we dream and when we also cannot see the future.  How appropriate is verse 8 – I will counsel you with my eye upon you.  He knows the when, where, and why behind every choice we make.  It is our responsibility to seek Him and to follow Him.  The blessings will follow us – that is, the steadfast love of  God is surrounding us because we are consciously trusting Him.  May each of you experience His love as you choose to be instructed by Him.

    1. Sherry, Thanks for sharing that good msg from the book.   I’m curious about the book title.  Might have to read about it!

  21. 13. Read Psalm 32:8-9 and find the promise and condition.
    The promise is that the Lord will provide his instruction, teaching, counsel and protection.   
    The condition is that we not be like a horse or a mule that need to be controlled by bit and bridle.  In other words, we are to be flexible, pliable, and open to the Lord’s leading — otherwise, he may have to do something “dramatic” in our lives to get our attention.   Some of our trials and closed doors may be forms of “bit and bridle!”    
    14. Come to Him now with a problem in your life and let Him teach you. Be still and listen –have a play-dough heart.
    I have been so concerned about our church and the transitions we are going through — we are in uncharted territory, I feel.   So that is the problem I brought before the Lord.    I am so used to being in control of things, but I feel this is out of my control totally.   The Lord tells me that perhaps I am not the answer to the problem — that perhaps the answers will be given to younger people in our congregation.   My daughter is away at a world-wide spiritual conference for women, and she is writing excited emails back to the pastor and several others, including me.    She is the one who is about to become president of the congregation July 1 (just a couple of days away).   So I feel the Lord is telling me to take a “back seat” at this point.   
    15. How does this psalm end?
    Rejoice in the Lord, be glad, and sing!   

  22. 9. Read Psalm 32:1-4 and list reasons why it is important to keep short accounts with the Lord.
    HE took on my sins-They are covered via the cross and resurrection. Jesus doesn’t count them against me. When I sin and don’t confess He will not hold it against me but it will hinder intimacy with Him. It blocks the blessings of deeper intimacy with Him, and vs 3 and 4 happen-I groan all day long-my bones waste away, my strength is sapped because my sin is eating away at me destroying me.
    10. How do you make a habit of confession?
    Well, it starts with being in the Word in the mornings. When I see Him, He reveals so much inside my dark heart-things I can’t see. So when these things are brought to mind my part is agreeing with God and confessing them to him. Also throughout the day when I sin albeit through my thoughts, or words or actions..His Holy Spirit gives me red flags and those can be times of confession too. That said, I CAN EASILY DEFAULT TO JUSTIFYING MY SIN! and not turn and confess..I guess it is when I see Him that really makes the difference as to whether or not I yield and turn-and that is a process. I am a baby in this still but He is changing this in me ever so slowly..I need him every day over and over. 

    1. rebecca–your whole 9 is so good –great red flag reminder for me “my strength is sapped because my sin is eating away at me”

  23. Praying Your Tears sermon by Tim Keller:
    Psalm 39:12,13  and Psalm 126
    The Psalms give us a third way to address our emotions in between what religiousity and secularity usually tell us.  
    Religious people tend to tell us to deny the power and depth of feelings.
    Secular people tend to see discovery/expression of feelings as a good end in itself.  to ‘bow to feelings’  ‘this is how I feel.  I have to go with it.’
    To ‘bow to’ or ‘stuff’…..to be over awed or under aware of feelings is dangerous.  Psalms tell us to do neither but to PRAY our feelings.  To pray our deepest feelings and bring them to God and process them.  
    Three ways to do this:
    1.  Expect tears.          2.  Invest tears.        3. Pray tears.
    Context of Ps. 126 is uncertain but the fact is that God had done something really great.  Beyond imagination.   ”we were like men who dreamed’….the fulfillment of a dream and yet, vs 4 says ‘Restore our fortunes’.   (vs 1-3 and the last 3 are in the present tense.  Why?  It was such a vivid remembering that it is described as though it is the here and now.)  Yet in vs. 4…..the description is of the Negev, the desert, lifeless….famine? literal famine? heat? plague? military defeat?…. we don’t know what they were going through.  
     Even when walking with God….expect tears.   There’s no word of repentance or indication that they have done wrong.  The Christian myth that if we walk with God, he won’t let bad things happen is wrong!  
    1.  Expect tears.
    Becoming a person of faith may lead you to weep more.  Why?
    The OT and NT metaphor of the heart of stone removed and replaced with a heart of faith:  Ez. 11, 36  and II Cor 3 .
    When the gospel changes our heart, it begins to be softer, more vulnerable, more touchable.   We feel the evil around us and we also feel pain for the victims.  We no longer disdain them.  We know they too can be changed.  
    Jesus had the perfect human heart.  Walked with God.  Was a man of sorrows.  Acquainted with grief.
    If you don’t expect tears…you cry for 2 things.  What grieves you and the fact that you are grieved.
    2)  Invest your tears.
    metaphor.  Sow in tears.  Reap songs of joy.  Carry seed.  Return with sheaves.  Farmers sow.  Same day came back with joy.  True metaphor. 
    Do they go out weeping?  Poetic image.  Sowing tears.  Watering seed with tears.  Do not avoid tears.  
    Can’t take seed and sit on it.   Can’t take bag of seed and just dump it.   Both will not produce.  
    Plant seed.  Plant tears.  = Opportunity for fruitfulness and growth.  
    “Don’t Waste your sorrows”    Not a masochistic embracing of sorrow.  Not a hedonistic avoidance of sorrow.  When tears come invest them.  
    Sow tears and reward =joy.  Psalm 30:5.  Not just weeping giving way to tears.  But weeping PRODUCING joy.  II Cor 4:17….the light and momentary afflictions are ‘achieving’ the eternal weight of glory.   That kind of joy is the product of tears.  
    The kind of joy that comes from avoiding tears doesn’t change us.  Joy that comes through tears does.
    3. Plant your tears.
    How do I plant tears?    all laments are prayers.  White hot with feelings that transform both the tears and the weeper.
    3 things to put tears in perspective:

    1) Plant our tears in the realization of his grace.  
    We have to realize his grace before we start crying.  Psalm 39 is filled with sorrow and disturbing images.  All of the Davidic psalms end with either trust, peace, triumph confidence, even if the previous content is troublesome (ie Ps. 16 and 17)  
    Here in Ps. 39…..it ends with absolute theological incorrectness.  Why?  Is this an error in scripture?
    Kidner says…the prayer, ‘look away from me makes no more sense than Peter saying ‘depart from me’.   God knows when to treat this plea as he does in Luke 5 (Peter) and Matt 8:34 (crowd).  “The very presence of such prayers in the scripture is a witness to his understanding.  He knows how we speak when we are desperate.”  (Derek Kidner)
    He puts this example in scripture to show us that when we say desperate, incorrect things, we are safe with him.  Our deepest feelings, our anger belong.  Our pre-reflective outbursts belong in the very presence of God.  He says, ‘I understand’.
    We need to realize his grace to understand this and come to him and not stuff our feelings before him.

    2.) Plant our tears in a vision of the cross:
    Most important.  God knows the sorrow.   Jesus sorrow was so great that he prayed in desperation….’My God, why have you forsaken me?”  Jesus got the abandonment we deserved so that when we say ‘turn away from me’…..God will come to us.
    He experienced what we should have received and he can understand.  We see Him on the cross.  When we put our tears are in the vision of the
    cross, we see the ‘deep magic’ (Lewis) that turns our tears into gold….into joy.  
    When we plant our tears in the vision of the cross we get rid of  guilt and self pity.  

    3)  Plant your tears with an assurance of his glory.
    The last verse.  “Will” return with joy.  Psalm 146-150….end of Psalter.  All JUST praise.  No tears.  No pleas.  Why?
    Eugene Peterson in his book, ‘Answering God’ says.…”We have to realize what Psalms are teaching us that all true prayer pursued far enough will become praise”  
    not always easily…..sometimes takes a lifetime…but will always end there.  
    CS Lewis “nobody told me that grief felt so much like fear”  (Grief Observed)  We are afraid the grief will last forever.  But when we know all will end in praise we can get involved in other people’s lives.  Not afraid to weep.   Are we happy enough to be weepers?  Are we fast to repent?  Our tears that we experience in ministry, friendship and our lives will produce joy for the people around us and for our own hearts.

    1. Wanda, great notes! Thank you. 
      The whole sermon was so good and really spoke to me. Thank you for the good outline. =) 

    2. Wanda,   Your notes are terrific!    I listened to the sermon and took notes, but haven’t gotten them transcribed yet.    I think you set the mark pretty high.    Thanks for a job well done!

    3. I was very motivated to get notes written and typed this week because I want to share this sermon with my friend.  We are reading Prayer by Yancey together and this is such an amazing sermon about prayer.  I think we’ll take a break from the book and listen and discuss this this week.  🙂

      1. Sweet, Dee!  Greet them from me 🙂

      2. Please greet them from me, too 🙂

        Not sure why this came back to me now… but I remember telling Kendall & Sylvia how my bro-in-law carried my sister “over the threshold” in the nursing home where Kendall was admin. The whole wedding party toured the place (I think just before they were in Fargo?) because my Grandma was there.

  24. As I was rereading Wanda’s good notes, I realized that “planting our tears” is what we learned to do in The God of All Comfort study. (Can’t remember exactly what I wrote before but I’m not seeing it — now sure how/if I triggered filter).  By saturation with Christian music that seemed to help at the time, I also planted my tears when I was depressed.  During the past few years, I have experienced some things that knocked me off my rocker, but I don’t think the joy every completely left.  Maybe I have begun to reap some of the tears that were sown by me as well as for me years ago.

    1. Wow, Renee.  That is a really neat thought that those past tears may be producing joy!   I am thinking I need to do some ‘retroactive’ sowing for the past dozen years I’ve been praying and weeping for my loved ones to return to the Lord.  I don’t feel so hopeless about it as I once did.  But I have never understood this concept of deliberately sowing my tears before.  I think God’s grace has brought me into a better place by pursuing him even without this realization.  But with this teaching, there’s something specific that I can use to process those times. 

  25. 5. Take either Job or Jeremiah, if you can, and describe their sorrows. Job- Puts all my “issues” into perspective. He lost his home, family, was in pain. Everything. He obeyed the Lord, yet he suffered greatly.
    6. Read Psalm 31 in its entirety and find a passage that illustrates:
        A. The psalmist’s trust in God – Ran to Him. Knew He was safe. A hiding place.
        B. The psalmist’s longing for God to hear him – “Take me seriously” Please- don’t wait…
        C. The psalmist’s pain and feeling of being forgotten –  “Trapped by a siege, I panicked.” Desperate, I throw myself on you”
        D. The psalmist’s resolve to trust the Lord- God takes care of all who stay close to him,
    I can picture her singing to your husband. What a beautiful image it is.
    7. Whatever pain you are going through right now, lament, using this psalm to help you pray your tears.
    Lord thank you for putting me in situations where you are the only thing I have to run to. Please listen to my heart, You know its desires. Thank you for being my hiding place and giving me a peace as I put my life in your hands. I get tired, but I  will continue to trust. I pray against hurtful words or circumstances. When I do come across those, I am thankful despites this fallen world, you always have a smile, you always love me, and you give me comfort. I am weak. You are strong. Fill up my emptiness. You want good for those who praise Your name. Thank you for always taking care of me. I need strength and endurance. Despite these trials, I know you are here with me, and I am forever thankful. Amen
    Read and list reasons why it is important to keep short accounts with the Lord.
    He wants us to share our hearts with him. It eats us up inside when we don’t share, confess, repent.
    10. How do you make a habit of confession?
    Throughout my day I make it a habit to talk to the Lord, not just during my quiet time. Share my heart/confess in the moment, no matter what I am doing. Most the time this usually happens when I am cleaning, a time when thoughts tend to race around in my mind.
    11. Read Psalm 32:5-7 and list the blessings of sincere repentance.
    Suddenly the pressure was gone—
        my guilt dissolved,
        my sin disappeared
    12. Listen to Sara Groves sing “Hiding Place” above and then, in prayer:
    A. Confess the ways you are broken
    A sinner. Guilt. Trying to fix things on my own. Fighting my tendency to be dull to possibilities
    B. Recall the Words He has spoken that show His love for you
    He does not want my fullness- He wants my emptiness so He may fill it with His fullness – Spurgeon.
    13. Read Psalm 32:8-9 and find the promise and condition.
    He wants to speak right to us. Stay on the path. Don’t drift.
    15. How does this psalm end?
    Praising Him! He is good!

    1. Natalie–love your heart “Lord thank you for putting me in situations where you are the only thing I have to run to.” You’re definitely 100% play-dough 🙂

    2. Natalie:   Ditto to praying while cleaning!……love to just talk aloud as I move around the house doing mindless tasks.  I often focus best when I’m doing something with my hands.

  26. Notes from Keller’s Praying Our Tears
    Psalm 39: 12-13 & Psalm 126:1-6
    These are a couple of psalms about weeping, suffering, and grief.  When you look at the great doctrines and principles of the Christian faith it stretches your mind.   Psalms go deep into the emotions of the heart.  Psalms give a gospel third way to address our emotions, in between what religiosity and secularism would tell us. 
    Religious people by and large want to deny their feelings.  Secular people see expression of feelings as good.   To bow to your feelings or to stuff your feelings – neither is good.  The Psalms say not to deny or vent, but pray your feelings.  
    If you were to break Psalms into categories, there will always be a section on lamentations, suffering, and tears.  
    Three things to do with tears:  
    Expect tears
    Invest tears
    Pray tears
    We are not sure what had happened, but it doesn’t matter what it was God did for them.  Whatever it was, it was really great!   All their dreams had been fulfilled.   Despite this, verse 4 reads “Restore our fortunes, O Lord.”    “Like streams in the Negev.”   Maybe they were going through famine, plagues, or military defeat.     Now it is like a desert.   
    Expect lots of tears if you walk with the Lord.  There is no word of repentance or indication that they have done wrong.    It is a Christian myth that if we walk with God, He won’t let bad things happen to us.  This is wrong, because Christians are supposed to expect tears.   The Bible indicates that becoming a person of faith may make you weep more.   There is a biblical metaphor for conversions.   “I will remove from them a heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”    (Ezekiel 11:19) You feel the evil and pain around you that you just didn’t.   As you grow in grace you should expect to cry more.   I say I  want to be like Christ and he was a man of sorrows, but I don’t want anything bad to happen to me.    You find yourself weeping about what made you weep, but also you are weeping about the weeping.
    Invest your tears:   Those who sow in tears will reap sheaves of joy.  
    Keller had heard a title of a book, which was “Don’t waste your Sorrows.”  We are not to embrace our sorrows, and we are not to avoid our sorrows – we are to invest them.   
    The religious say to stuff your tears (your seed).   The secular say to express your tears (but you can’t just dump your seed in the middle of the field).    In the gospel, if you plant your tears, they produce joy.  Okay how do you do that?   You pray your tears.   They may be white-hot, but come to God with your tears.   
    Pray your tears:
    Put your tears into three things:   Realization of grace, vision of the cross, and assurance of glory. 
    You have to know these things before you cry.   
    In the realization of his grace:  God in his grace understands your tears. 
    The last verses of David’s psalms end with joy and assurance.  
    He is saying “look away from me, that I might have a little bit of peace before I die.”  He is saying the opposite of what he should be saying.     Is this an error in the Scriptures.  
    Keller quotes commentary on the Book of Psalms by Derek Kidner which gave him comfort: 
    “The very presence of such prayers is a witness to His understanding.  He knows how we speak when we are desperate.”   He understands when our feeling overwhelm us we say desperate and incorrect things.   He understands so that he puts an example in the scripture that says it is safe to pray like this with me.    
    Tears – do we stuff them or do we dump them?    They are not to be managed and packaged.   They belong I pre-reflective outbursts in His presence. 
    Why do we have a God who understands our dereliction?   
    In the vision of the cross:   
    Why is he so understanding?   Our Scriptures are the only ones in the world that say that our God himself was a man of sorrows.   In the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed “My soul is sorrowful unto death.”   God knows what it is like to look to heaven and have a cry of dereliction.    He understands and says “keep coming to me.”   Why?    Jesus got the abandonment we deserved.   When we say “turn your face away, He will come.   When we see Him on the cross – we see the deep magic that turns our tears into gold.    Jesus’ tears produce the joy of our being welcomed into the Kingdom of God.  
    Looking to the cross keeps us from feeling abandoned, like you are a guilty, shameful person.  He will get rid of the self pity.   Self-pity makes a small, little person who can’t forgive, who feels ill-used, and is touchy.   
    Look at the cross.    How many, who couldn’t understand it, went home and lost their faith that day?     When you can’t see what God is doing in your life, think of that!!   It leaves us humble instead of proud, more sensitive to others instead of more self-absorbed.  
    In assurance of his glory: 
    Eugene Peterson in his book Answering God wrote:   “We have to realize that what the psalms are teaching us is that all true prayer, if pursued far enough will become praise.”   It may take a lifetime.   When you actually feel sorrow, there is a part of your heart that says “it will never get better.”  You are afraid to weep, as you are afraid you will never stop.   But if you know that all prayer will end in praise, that we will be with Him forever, that frees you to get involved with others even though you know it is going to make you weep.   
    Are you happy enough to be a weeper?    As you assured of the glory enough to not be afraid to weep in repentance, to be quick to repent for tears produce joy.   Are you happy enough to get involved in the needs and hurts in the lives of people in the city?    Tears you experience in ministry, in repentance, and in friendship will produce a harvest in joy for the people around you and for your own heart. 

    1. You caught some things I didn’t get down……I may need to copy yours again too, Deanna!  It’s so nice to have the outline when you listen again.

  27. I just listened to Keller’s message on Praying our tears.  Deanna, I’m with Wanda on this – you shared some EXCELLENT notes on the message!  The message itself was incredible and is deeply ministering to my heart.  Keller articulated what I had been realizing for some time:  in the spring and summer of 2013, the place I went to in my soul was “weeping about the weeping” – yuck!  That is a dismal and hopeless place to be.  NOT true “lament”…….underneath it all there is HOPE in true lament…..for we will look to the cross and praying our tears WILL turn to praise!  I will listen to this message again and again…..what a balm for our troubled times.  
    Laura – thank you for your comment about the deaths of those I was so praying for……you turned my eyes back to magnifying the Lord – while affirming my true sorrow.  That is a gift, sister.

    1. Jackie-I loved that you picked up with Wanda in regard to weeping about weeping..It is a dismal place to be and I can do that too. I just realized though that my ‘stuffing’ problem is deeper than I thought-yuk. I don’t want to weep about stuffing..but oh my-I am sad inside that I have done that to Jesus-yet at the same time that I am sad I am overjoyed of His Grace for He understands and He WILL help me in this-there is no doubt-He will..I pray I  love him so that I let him peel the pride layers off so he can take me on this new journey in going deeper with Him in prayer.  I am sure I haven’t loved him as much as I say I have!

    2. 🙂

  28. Deanna & Wanda–what a gift these notes are–great job! I’m very behind this week but wanted to share this from my Spurgeon’s Morning Devotion. It really spoke to me this morning and I thought it might encourage some of you too:
    “Looking unto Jesus.” Hebrews 12:2
    It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.” All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.” Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee–it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee–it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument–it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith. We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “looking unto Jesus.” Keep thine eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to him; when thou liest down at night look to him. Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail thee.
    “My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness: I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

    1. Thank you so much, Elizabeth,  for the kind words and for sharing the passage from Spurgeon’s Morning Devotion!     I am off in one minute to meet a friend for breakfast — we meet bi-monthly to encourage one another.    I copied your post and printed it so I could take it with me and share it with my friend, Jackie.   

    11. Read Psalm 32:5-7 and list the blessings of sincere repentance.
    He hears, He forgives-as I hide in him he preserves me from trouble, and surrounds me with shouts of deliverance. I am thinking that this preservation from trouble and deliverance is inwardly more so than saving from the consequences of sin or circumstances?  
    12. Listen to Sara Groves sing “Hiding Place” above and then, in prayer:
    A. Confess the ways you are broken
    Lord I don’t deeply rejoice more when you are glorified than when I am. I want to love like you love-sacrificially-to truly be humble in putting others interests above mine and to rejoice when they are attracted to you-not me. I am so self centered and I want you to help me get rid of that. Lord I pray Scotty Smith’s prayer yesterday-that hit me deep for I am so broken in those same places. I want a joy defined by people making much about you-NOT about me. In waiting for your voice to be heard rather than rushing in for mine! Change my heart.
    B. Recall the Words He has spoken that show His love for you
    Matthew 23:37  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have LONGED to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
    Song of Songs 2:14 My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.
    Song of songs 1:15 How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves.
    Song of Songs 6:5 Turn away your eyes from me, for they overwhelm me.
    13. Read Psalm 32:8-9 and find the promise and condition.
    He will instruct and teach me every day-every minute on which way to go-He counsels me with His eye upon me. The condition is that I obey out of love and gratitude, not out of duty like a horse does.  
    15. How does this psalm end?
    The wicked remain in their sorrows-with sorrowful and empty hearts void of loving and trusting Him. But we who are in Him if we are steadfast in our love for Him and/as we confess, repent and turn-we will be glad in Him-rejoicing in Him shouting for joy despite the sorrow our sin causes. We will turn and cling to him obeying him with upright hearts because we love him. 

  30. 16. Share your notes and thoughts.

    This is the best Keller sermon yet!! I am going to listen a few more times today. So count me in with everyone else! 

    Here are some of the things that quickened me:

    1. The Bible indicates becoming a person of faith may require us to weep more. This isn’t based on anything we don’t do right or wrong. 

    2. I am investing my tears when I am sowing them in Him in prayer rather than stuffing them or dumping them in prayer.  As I sow my tears to Him in prayer I will reap joy. Sowing my tears in the Gospel is ‘investing’ them for out of that sowing in the Gospel it will produce sheaves of Joy. For our slight momentary affliction is achieving an eternal weight of glory that outweighs everything.  It is changing us. The kind of joy we really need is the kind of joy that is the product of tears that changes us.
    How I sow in prayer:

    1. Plant my tears in a realization of His Grace: HE UNDERSTANDS when I say desperate or incorrect things-He knows how I speak when I am desperate.  Where my tears belong is in pre-reflected outbursts from the very depth of my being in the presence of God.
    2.  Plant my tears in A vision of the cross: Why does He understand? We have the only God who claims that our God himself came down into this world became a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. He felt his sorrows were going to kill him before he even got to the cross. He knows what it looks to heaven and feel it barred-to feel nothing. A cry of desperation-my god my god why hast thou forsaken me.
     Jesus tears on the cross produced joy-our welcome into the bossom of God. Take my tears and think about him crying on the cross-God turning away from him. Even though I feel like I am being abandoned by God I am not.  You will get rid of the self pity. Weeping and grief and weeping and disappointment is fine but weeping in self pity will make you a small person-never forgiving. Look at the cross and say-you have really suffered for me, mine are nothing compared to yours-if you can suffer for me I can be patient suffering in this.  If I plant my tears in the vision of the cross I will become more like him. I will become more humbled, more sensitive to others than self absorbed.
    3. Plant my tears in the assurance of His Glory:  He who goes out weeping will return with songs of joy: All true prayer pursued long enough will always end up in praise-doesn’t always get there quickly and could last for years.  All prayer pursued far enough becomes praise. Don’t rush or push it.  The joy that is inevitably coming.
    Are you assured enough of the glory to be fast to repent because you know tears produce joy.  Are you happy enough to get involved in the needs of the city?  
    My thoughts? Well..I am getting hit on every corner inside which is GOOD-you could say my heart is flipping inside for again He has come to help me in this- I so love how He loves me and is patient with my blind spots!! I see areas where I don’t love him like He does me for I can easily stuff. I have been blind to it! I do both dumping and stuffing-I don’t wait or go far enough into the issues deep inside with contentment to wait for His joy with expectation of Glory.   I am so glad for this sermon for I know He will change me! Am going to listen again. Lord help me to soak this in deeper-give me understanding and help me to walk in it with you. 

    1. I like seeing your ‘best sermon yet’ comment nearly every time, Rebecca!  I wrote on facebook, that I’ve given up trying to find enough superlatives to describe Keller’s caliber of teaching.  ‘Best yet’ works!  (until the next time…..ha!)

      1. Wanda-LOL! I know-me too. I hesitated to say anything like that..but poop on my approval idol! He has put this cheerleader in me-sometimes I just can’t help it.  ;~)  I will try to find you and friend you on F.B. if you are okay with that. :))

        1. Hey, SA, where is your disguise?

        2. Renee-lol-had to change it, I was found out. 🙂

  31. Thankyou, Dee, for including Tim Keller’s sermon in this study.  Timely.
    I am grateful that our God interprets our tears ~ that our sorrows are sacred.    
    We hosted a stranger in our home for two nights this week.   (we belong to a network of Bed & Breakfasts worldwide and open up part of our home to guests)    This man is Jewish and he was in great sorrow over the death (murder) of his life-long friend, a prominent and respected photographer here in Montana.   Long story short, I believe that the Lord orchestrated his being in our home.   I encouraged him to read these Psalms from our study this week.    My husband and I spoke to him of Jesus and we listened a lot as this total stranger wanted to share his grief with us.      
    We really do need each other ~  God has designed it that way.   I am grateful to be “sitting around the table”  here with all of you.   

    1. What a beautiful gift your listening hearts were to that man, Nila.  I will pray he reads the psalms and can pray his tears….in a new light after talking with you.

    2. Nila…that was huge of you to speak to this stranger about Jesus!

  32. Elizabeth,  thank you so very much for posting the Spurgeon devotion.  I read and wept.  It is ever, only Christ Alone.
    Reminded me of this modern day hymn, In Christ Alone,  by Keith Getty:

    1. beautiful song Nila, one of my favorites too–thank you!

  33. OK, this is DEFINITELY going on my required weekly listening for a while. I SO needed this! Condensed notes:
    The Psalms give us a Gospel- 3rd way to deal with our feelings. 1.There are 3 ways to relate to your feelings:
    Religiosity–stuffing our feelings because they are uncomfortable
    Secular: feelings are good, over-dwell on them, over-awed by them
    Gospel: do not deny or vent your feelings, but pray your feelings, bring them to God and process
    2. What do we do with our tears?
    a) Expect tears. In ps 126:1-3—God had done something amazing for them. Verse 4, they ask Him to restore their fortunes because they are experiencing desert times. Even if God is with me, I’m walking with Him, I need to expect tears. We will have desert times. Christians have a myth that if we are “good Christians”, God won’t let anything really bad happen. We do not see repentance among them, they have not done something “wrong”. Christians are supposed to expect tears, and not just because we live in this fallen world. The Bible indicates that becoming a person of faith may lead me to weep more.
    How can that be? God says He will remove from us our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh. When God comes into my heart, it becomes softer, more vulnerable, more touchable. I feel the evil and pain around me—deeper. I am more sensitive to the pain. As I grow in grace, I should expect to cry more.
    b) Invest tears. Sow our tears. Do not avoid my tears, but don’t just express them—plant them. See them as an opportunity for fruitfulness and growth. Don’t waste your sorrows. Tears give way to joy, but this is deeper. In the Gospel, if we plant our tears, our tears actually produce joy. Don’t wait for the tears to go away—they change us, transform us. How do we sow our tears?—Pray them.
    c) Pray tears. Pray your tears with a realization of his grace, God in His grace understands my weeping—He is safe to pour my heart out to. He knows how we speak when we are desperate—that we say incorrect things. He is telling us it is safe to pour out our deepest feelings, anger, tears—to Him.
    Pray our tears with a vision of the Cross. He knows what its like to give a cry of desperation, and feel forsaken. He tells us to keep coming to Him, even though we turn away from Him. When Jesus called to God, God turned His face away—so now when we turn away, God comes. THIS spoke so directly to my heart! **We have a tendency to feel guilty when bad things happen to us—but look at the Cross! Even though I feel abandoned, I feel punished—its’ not. Jesus took it all on the Cross. Jesus was rejected for me. Get rid of the unnecessary guilt, and self pity. My sufferings are nothing compared to His. Let the tears humble me, so that I am less self-absorbed, and more like Him.
     Pray our tears in an assurance of His glory. All true prayer, pursued far enough, will end in praise. When I feel sorrow, there is a fear that it will never get better. Fear of weeping and not being able to stop. But if I know that all true prayer will end in praise—that frees me. Am I happy enough to get involved, to weep? The tears I experience in repentance, relationships, will produce joy.

  34. What a blessing it is ALWAYS to come to this blog and be refreshed by God through the ministry of the Word and your personal experiences. I can relate to many of you and the Lord placed to the forefront one BIG idol in my life right now-books. I so love to read but just as one of you mentioned, reading has become an escape behavior for me. Cell phones usage to a lesser degree. I am becoming more aware of the subtleness of idolatry in my life and thankful for the realization and the need to confess right away. I have also kept away from serious weeping thinking it is not a sign of Christian maturity. That I should be strong and not let things bother me too much. Tim Keller’s sermon was very timely.  A new heart-tender, touchable, sensitive. Yet in the midst of the weeping comes the knowledge of truth that “joy comes in the morning.”
    Lord, help me to feel as your heart feels. Let my weeping turn my eyes to you and not to the circumstance or to the object of my weeping. Your Son was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Let me be like Him and always looking to Him as my example.
    My take away: Pray your tears with the realization of His grace. Psalm 39. God says to me, “I want you to feel in my presence. It is safe to come to me.” ” True prayer pursued enough will always end in praise.” Hallelujah, Lord! Praise you!

  35. Jill,
    Thank you for your broken prayer…… it is a paradox that with our God, “broken is useful”……. I don’t understand.    I am just amen-ing your words: “… my arrogance in thinking I can stop the brokenness(and by such stop Your process?), forgive my disobedience.  Even now God my heart is tumultuous in the things that are hard.  Things that I just want fixed.  I am shallow and selfish….”.   
    Many years ago, Nancy Leigh DeMoss  shared a story about a missionary who went to a village in Africa.  He said that the national believers in this  region of Africa would inquire when hearing of another believer, ‘Is he a broken Christian?   Because, if he is, we can have true fellowship.’ 
    Lord,  You know my messiness, my inconsistencies, the darkness in my heart.   And yet You love me still…… and you don’t give up on me…..  and you are able to change this heart again today…… 

  36. Take-aways: Very amazing, but I just chickened out (which is weird considering what I just wrote and deleted). May post some of it later.

  37. Saturday takeaways:  I just scrolled back through this whole lesson and it’s almost hard to believe it’s only been a week long.   Covered a lot of ground and had a lot of thoughts and a few epiphanies throughout the week. 
    When Renee shared … ‘I don’t need a larger vision.   He is my vision’….it helped me with one of my constant struggles for which I am continuously wondering….’where do I go next?’  But the ‘step by step’ leading is exactly what I needed to hear.  And it reinforced the verse in 31:5 that I prayed several times this week.  ‘Into your hands I commit my spirit.  Redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth.’   Two of God’s attributes: Redeemer and Truth…..have become increasingly more dominant in my thinking as I seek God’s will regarding an important life change or the grace and peace to remain in the place where I am.   This short prayer in the verse says a lot to me.  I think of him  redeeming not just my soul from sin but redeeming everyday aspects of my life.  Things that have ‘gone wrong’ ‘been disappointing’ etc. and in His truth transforming me and/or the circumstances.    A convicting thought this week was when Jackie brought up that 31:13 could refer to the slander, gossip that robs one of ‘life’ even if it isn’t in a physical way.   I am guilty here.  One of the battles I have been facing for the past year involves someone I know on multiple levels and her way of dealing with a situation which has been offensive to many.  It’s a very personal issue to my family and it’s been hard to ‘take the high road’ when the subject comes up among friends.   And of course, Tim Keller’s message gave me a LOT to take away.  I went through my notes with my husband today and we tried to discuss some personal application for some of his points.  I have a feeling that this will be a lesson long in the making as it makes it’s way off of my notepad and into my life.  Something that was freeing for me was his words about ‘expecting tears’ and that we need to know and have the realization of God’s grace before tears come…..so we aren’t weeping over the sorrow and weeping over the weeping.  I’ve done that many times in the past in regard to unanswered prayer  for family members to seek and know the Lord.  The weeping over the sorrow is heavy but the weeping ‘because’ there is pain can be dissolved when I realize His grace and realize that tears are to be expected.  

    1. Wanda, Me too:

      Something that was freeing for me was his words about ‘expecting tears’ …

      I edited out about 90% of what I first wrote for take-aways… I noticed that I had “expect tears” described in two different places.  The first time I edited, I cut my response in half.  Then I summarized even more.  It’s a little overwhelming because this applies so much  — SO MUCH that I’m wiped out.

      One thing I am learning is to trust God’s timing, even in what I learn, when I learn — though I wish I would have been born “wise”  😀   What does confuse me is that I was seeking God just as much when I was 14, 16, 19 (and most of the time since then, a few years ago) as I do now.  I have asked, “Was I really stupid? misled? disobedient? sick? lied to? all of the above??”   I don’t know.  I know God is faithful.  From a perspective of “just me,” I certainly don’t understand his timing of why I have learned what I have when I have.  Why not before?  Even as I type this, I see that part of my answer is that I was just 14, 16, 19, 21 etc. !!  I wouldn’t expect anyone else at that age to have experienced what I know now (doesn’t fit with typical human development.  Just doing my job 😉  ).  

      BUT STILL, why now?   And (why) didn’t Christians then know that it was okay to experience pain?   Or possibly, God has a much bigger picture 🙂   I do finally see some edges amongst the puzzle pieces.

    2. Wanda, that is the hard part about all of our lessons, “…as it makes it’s way off of my notepad and into my life”. The application – I find I could use a review every few weeks as unfortunately I can be so forgetful about what I’ve learned!

  38. 17. What’s your take-a-way and why?
    I’m still processing my take away, the sermon really impacted me. In the various struggles throughout my life, I’ve noticed how strongly the world, and even my self, want to place blame or find a reason, and answer, a “fix” for the trial. Our culture seems to me to scream at times that if we suffer, surely there is a reason. With my infertility, and neuropathy, I have struggled with voices, including my own, that want to say ‘what have you done wrong to cause this?’. Blind to the Cross. Not to say that suffering is not sometimes a consequence of our own mistakes—but the Cross PROVES very loudly, that this is not always the case! I should know this by now, but the sermon seemed to speak right to my face. The trials I am in right now—not punishment, not abandonment, not my fault. And though the Enemy likes to trip me up with them, trials themselves are not my enemies—they cane be instruments in His hands. I am broken. But I feel His arms around me, holding me, telling me there is nothing to “fix”, He loves me this way—mold-able, shape-able—He shines in me best this way.

    1. So good, Elizabeth.  Thank you. I’m relating so strongly to your post that the tears are flowing.  YES YES YES:  “The trials I am in right now—not punishment, not abandonment, not my fault. And though the Enemy likes to trip me up with them, trials themselves are not my enemies—they can be instruments in His hands. I am broken. But I feel His arms around me, holding me, telling me there is nothing to “fix”, He loves me this way—mold-able, shape-able—He shines in me best this way.”

      Though I know He is with me, sometimes I feel very alone, and in my head, I do hear human voices who proclaim punishment, abandonment, my fault — especially when their fixes don’t fix me. It helps me so much to see someone else (you!) write what you have written — and to EXPECT that the enemy will try to trip me up. 

  39. Takeaways:  
    1.  I have been learning how to plant my tears during the past 4-5 years on this blog (Thanks, Dee!)
    2.  Decades of (off and on) lamenting have produced joy.
    3.  Reading #10 “How do you make a habit of confession?” — have been more intentional since the minute I read the question.
    4.  The time spent with Him and confession/exploring confession allowed me to revisit God’s forgiveness and remember specific points over years when I became more aware that I had forgiven others.

    5.  (BIG ONE!)  I prayed Psalm 31 several times in response to something I learned today (though I considered not-as-good options other than praying, lamenting ).  I learned:  
    – There will be gossip, lies, & plots against me
    – Though I don’t have power over whether people will believe and act on the lies and I may not be able to “fix” situations, I’m not as powerless as I sometimes feel.  My power is through what Jesus has accomplished and the Spirit of God living in me.
    – Others might be afraid of me (and they may have good reason to be if they continue to act unjustly and if I speak out against injustice), but not because I will “get them.”
    6.  I need to be prepared for spiritual battle; wise as serpents & harmless as doves.

    The process of summarizing my take-aways has been challenging & exhausting (and led me to pray Ps 31 a few more times before I could even post).  The last two verses of Ps 31 are a good description of where I am at this moment:

    Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

    1. Oops!  I just re-read what I wrote and didn’t post.  I missed the most important part of takeaway #5:  “Woohoo!  By seeking approval from Jesus, I take away the power over me that others have when using lies and intimidation.  FREEDOM 🙂

       “Could add a number #7, too.   Because walls are down, I saw idols of comfort (escapism through cell phone, books, etc) and approval (yuck, see above).  Turning to Jesus is more automatic again, and identifying the idols is freeing rather than frightening.  I definitely see God’s timing in this — “a bruised reed he will not break.”

      1. so good, Renee.  All of it.  ‘a bruised reed he will not break’……one of the metaphors I love most…..I can see how much you went through to process, write and rewrite.  May God’s peace overwhelm and refresh you, my friend…..

        1. Wanda, Thank you.  I will sleep well tonight; this was exhausting.  It was as if I had surgery to clean out an old infection — and it almost would have been easier to live with a permanent ache.  So thankful that He knew when to do the surgery!

  40. Renee-you’ve passed your tears on to me. “By seeking approval from Jesus, I take away the power over me that others have when using lies and intimidation…and “a bruised reed he will not break.”
    I feel like this week some of the most “basic” truths are bolded in neon all caps in my heart. I so easily have the default mode of wanting to make an “if then” equation with pain–“if pain then I  must have messed up”, it is in my blood! But the Cross–He had all the pain and zero “messing up”. So my equation fails.
    The second big “basic truth” that is blaring at me is that Jesus did not just go through the pain on the Cross and then sit there waiting for us in Heaven–He goes back through the pain AGAIN, WITH US, each of us, in our trials. He re-enters pain for us, and carries us through it. Resting in that simple truth right now, makes me feel like I can breathe.

    1. Elizabeth….your last paragraph……wow.  ‘He re-enters pain for us and carries us through it.’   Profound.  

    2. Elizabeth-yes simple but profound- thank you!

    3. Elizabeth, you just passed the tears back to me :’)   (happier tears)  “He goes back through the pain AGAIN, WITH US, each of us, in our trials. He re-enters pain for us, and carries us through it. Resting in that simple truth right now, makes me feel like I can breathe.”   LOVE the “AGAIN”  — and that He re-enters pain for us.  I’m resting now, too — and breathing.  Oh how I need to be reminded of the “basic truths” over and over — He re-entered the pain with me today, knowing the exact time best for me.  In his love, he knows what (and when) will make me stronger, and what will “break” me.  I can trust His incomprehensible love and knowledge both for the what and the when.  THANK YOU!

    4. So good, Elizabeth…all of this…the default mode of “if pain then I must have messed up” – but the Cross shows us that is false, “He had all the pain and zero “messing up”. So yes, the equation fails!! And that He didn’t go through the pain of the Cross and then “sit there waiting for us in Heaven (kind of like waiting to see if we’ll make it on our own)-He goes back through the pain AGAIN, WITH US, each of us, in our trials. He re-enters pain for us, and carries us through it.”

  41. There was so much to take away this week! As I read over the chapters and meditated on them chapter 31:15 and 24 stood out so much that I made a sign that says “My life is in Your power…Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord. ” these are the words I want to recall.
    Then at the end of the sermon Keller asked “Are you happy enough to enter into another’s pain and weep with them?” (Paraphrase) That hit me right between the eyes. No, I fear their pain. It feels like a void that I would get sucked into. I would really appreciate prayer for this because I think I am called on this to someone God has brought into my life.
    The sermon was so excellent. I can’t say enough. I know I have heard it before and think that I should listen to it yearly. I have been sort of practicing this for many years. I must have heard it in a sermon once. Then out of having no one else to talk to when I was very upset I began to take it to the Lord. I remember once He called me out for self pity. But I learned that I can take my heart to Him. I think I am going to practice this more, not just when I am deeply upset. I should take the things that are heavy on my heart. The things I have prayed over for for years and heaven seems to be silent on and pray them in tears as a lament. I tend to gloss over them and put on a strong face when I should be lamenting.

    1. Oh Lord, Thank you that you go with us during pain and comfort us so that we might comfort others.  Thank you for Anne’s sensitivity to the pain of the person you have brought into her life.  Please protect her and grant her wisdom regarding her degree of involvement.  Overwhelm her with your presence so that there is no void to suck her in.  You, Lord, have won the war with darkness by experiencing the deepest darkness for us.  May Anne bring light and hope to the darkness of the person you have brought into her life.  Lead her in your timing, your way and keep her safe from evil.  In Jesus’ name.

      1. Perfect Renee! Without knowing any details you asked for the right things. Thanks so much.

    2. Anne, you expressed your fears so honestly here, and I can relate to this, too, “No, I fear their pain. It feels like a void that I would get sucked into.” I think we can tend to want to avoid pain at all costs…our own, and the pain of others. It can feel very scary. I pray that God will give you discernment as to your entering into this person’s pain.

  42. What’s your take-a-way and why?
    For the last few days I’ve been stuck with thoughts about heart idols after listening to Midday Connection. I think it’s a good stuck… the sort of stuck that means I haven’t finished with this yet. I’ve certainly identified that needing comfort and security has been my heart idol since John died – not trusting God to provide those. So… I’ve run off on a tangent and didn’t get to the last questions.

  43. 7. Whatever pain you are going through right now, lament, using this psalm to help you pray your tears.
    I have to admit that as I sat down to do this yesterday, I felt more convicted of all the blessings that I do have and that there are so many people that are walking really hard roads of suffering-much more than I. I know someone close to me that has shared with me some of their pain and tears, and I found a way to pray for them using passages from this psalm, as well as to remember that when I am feeling lonely or in pain over something, He does see and hear.
    “…for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.” And “Lord, I know that You see the distress that ___ is in; how his eyes grow weak with sorrow, his body with grief. You see the anguish, the failing strength of his body, the loneliness and the ache for the past, when times were pleasant and loved ones near. Help ___ to trust in You, to know that his times are in your hands. Let your face shine upon ___, and remind him of the goodness You have stored up for him. Hide ___ in the shelter of your presence and show Your wonderful love. Help ___ to be strong and take heart, and to keep hoping in You.”

  44. 8. Read Psalm 31 in its entirety and if any part of this lament quickens you, stop and meditate. Share here.
    Verse 5, and Jesus said these words from the Cross, “Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth.” Into what other hands is it even safe to trust my very soul? No other hands but God’s hands. I see the Gospel in this verse. My sin infects my very soul, yet this verse shows the ultimate trust in that I have trusted the Lord to take care of my sin and to safeguard my soul. It’s as if all of me, the real me that is unseen, housed in this temporary body, I have committed to Him and I trust that He has redeemed me, and I know that I haven’t been redeemed with money but with the blood of His Son.
    I find it interesting that here God is called the God of truth. He does know the truth about me yet redeems me all the same. He simply wants me to tell Him the truth. I think that those who are unwilling to admit the truth about themselves will not commit themselves into His hands because they think they are doing fine on their own. God sees me as I am and His hands don’t push me away but open to receive me. I truly have nowhere else to go with my sin, with my pain or my problems.

    1. Susan
      This was my take away verse this week too.  It’s so good to hear your thoughts about it.  That even though He is Truth…..and knows the truth about us, our soul is safe with him and He redeems us.  From sin and redeems our pain and sadness too.  And it comes full circle, in that we need to tell Him the truth about ourselves.  Wow.  So much in that verse the more I think on it.  Thanks.