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Psalm 39 is a Psalm of Lament:

But instead of ending with a resolve to trust God

in the midst of suffering, it ends:

Look away from me,

that I may smile again,

before I depart and am no more!

Photo by Gerard
Photo by Gerard

Tim Keller, in the message you will hear this week, says that this psalm used to trouble him. But then he read what Derek Kidner wrote and it ministered to him deeply in a place he needed to be reached:

The very presence of such prayers in Scripture is a witness to His understanding. He knows how men speak when they are desperate.

fuzzy shot of Rebecca, Dee, and Christy
fuzzy shot of Rebecca, Dee, and Christy

Recently our own Rebecca, who handles the administrative side of my ministry, and Christy, who often travels with me (and is trying to tutor me in technical aspects of my computer) came to Wisconsin for a “working vacation.” Shortly after Rebecca arrived, she learned her sister-in-law committed suicide. Her sister-in-law knew Jesus, yet had tried many times to take her life. Is she with Him now? Yes, we are confident. God is merciful to His desperate children, even, as Luther confirmed, when they take their lives in those times of desperation. We must pray against suicide, for it is an act that reaches back from the grave, piercing the hearts of those left behind. And though it is hard to understand, it is one of those “sins of the fathers” that research shows is often repeated by children and by children’s children.

Yet still, God is merciful. Suicide it is not the unforgiveable sin.

I came into Rebecca’s room the next morning and found her in tears. She said she had been trying to lament, but first found herself fearful to really lament. She realized then that the Lord was showing her that He was not like her earthly father, who was so critical. If she had lamented to her earthly dad, he would have been unkind or distanced himself emotionally. God wants our honest expressions. He can take it. He wants honesty as He wants intimacy. God knows how men speak when they are desperate. God led Rebecca to Lamentations and helped her express her great sorrow. He understood her desperate heart.

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. (Psalm 36:5)

He is the friend of sinners, a friend who cares, who understands our weakness, who was desperate Himself. When He cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” it was because for that time, when He was bearing our sins, He was forsaken. He was forsaken so we will never be. God has received Rebecca’s sister-in-law into His arms. And He came to Rebecca and comforted her. Even the timing of bring her to this quiet spot in Wisconsin was a gift from God for quiet, for healing, for experiencing Him.

During the week, Rebecca wanted us to watch Ragamuffin, the new movie on the life of Rich Mullins. Though a low budget film, and at times a little cheesy, I recommend it. I think the director did a great job in capturing the essence of this man, how he understood and communicated so well that God loves the ragamuffin, God loves the outcast, In a few weeks I’ll have a few discussion questions for those who desire and have time to watch it. Here’s the trailer of Ragamuffin, and I’d like you to particularly note Brennan Manning’s words to Rich at the end of the trailer:

Sunday Icebreaker:

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

2. Read Psalm 39:13 and then comment on Kidner’s quote: God knows how men speak when they are desperate.

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study:

To prepare your heart, sing along with Matthew Smith’s rendition of Jesus, What a Friend of Sinners

Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.

Psalm 38 is a “penitential psalm,” and Psalm 39 is a psalm of lament. What ties them together is a sense of desperation — the first for sin, and the second for circumstances. In a penitential psalm, because of your sense of the Lord’s holiness and realization of your sinfulness, you may feel desperate, as Peter did when He realized who Jesus was after a miracle. He said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” In Psalm 38 it is David who is desperate, and yet behind David we can glimpse the suffering Messiah. The suffering has many layers: sin, disease, being forsaken by friends. It reminds me of Job, and of the GREATER JOB. The first Job was relatively innocent, but the GREATER JOB was completely innocent.

3. Read Psalm 38 out loud to yourself.

    A. What images of desperation do you see?

    B. What glimpses of the suffering Messiah do you see behind David?

    C. What resolve do you see in verse 15?

    D. What does David do in verse 16?

    E. What plea is given in verses 21-22?

    F. How is this plea similar to Christ’s words on the cross?


4. It is right, when we suffer, to confess sin, for our hearts are sinful. Sin indeed can lead to consequences, yet not all suffering is a direct result of sin. But in this psalm we see many layers — a desperate man who is both confessing sin and pleading for mercy from his circumstances. Take this psalm and pray it for your own life, using also the resolve you see in verse 15.

Prepare your heart today with this:

5. Read Psalm 39 aloud.

   A. What phrases and pictures of lament stand out to you?

   B. What prayer does he make in verses 12-13? Why is this startling?

   C. What does this teach you about God’s heart for the desperate?

Though I myself have not suffered from clinical depression, my husband and my biological children have. My heart so went out to them during these times — often their thoughts did not seem reasonable to me, and I could not help them, could not fix a situation that in my mind wasn’t even real. The feelings of love and empathy I had for them at those times are only a drop in the great ocean of God’s love for His desperate children.


6. The only other psalm of lament that ends like this, and on which you will hear the Keller sermon, is Heman’s cry of darkness, Psalm 88. Look at how it ends.

7. If you are feeling desperation, use Psalm 39 to pray for yourself. If someone you love is feeling desperate, use this psalm to pray for them.

Thursday-Friday: Free Keller Sermon: Heman’s Cry of Darkness

8. Listen to the Sermon and share your notes or comments: Link


9. What’s your take-a-way and why?

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  1. 1.  “Did you believe that I loved you?”  That is haunting.  The contrast between His love for me – whispered and shouted to me through all the Scripture…..and Psalm 39:13.  That it’s not either/or, but that true Truth is that He loves me…..and yet, I have cried “Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more.”   
    Your comments on clinical depression were so valid Dee.  I also have never experienced this kind of depression, but family members have.  It is heartwrenching to be on the outside looking in…..and to see your loved one living a reality that is not real – and yet is oh-so-real for them.  It is like the plexiglass walls in prison visiting areas (some) that separate you from one another.  You are sharing with one another, but so aware that you are living in two different worlds…..with a very real wall between.  
    I’m so eager to grow in my love for Jesus this week…..as we share together!

      1. Jackie, I agree with Dee-you articulated this so so well. 

    1. Jackie, I appreciate your post. I’ve been on both sides of that plexiglass wall…it’s still hard to think about the pain I caused my family when I didn’t (dare) let them know where I was, often for weeks.   🙁  I HATE DEPRESSION, especially when it is treatment resistant.  

      1. Renee…..I have known you long enough to have been with you on both sides of the plexiglass and though I was so young and so naive at a time when you had some deep struggles, I loved you and wanted so badly for the depression to leave you.  Now, so many years later,  I see how MUCH have learned from you.  And the part about loving you keeps growing. 🙂 

    2. “I’m so eager to grow in my love for Jesus this week…..as we share together!”  
      -me too Jackie!  It is clear He has brought you through some rough times and you have come out on the other side with tremendous depth.

  2. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    The first picture is such a penetrating expression of someone who is struggling or depressed. Also, God knows how we speak when we are desperate-so grateful!  I was so glad God had me there with Dee and Christy when it happened. While my sister in law knew God loved her she often told my brother she never believed truly that she was loved. 
    I loved Ragamuffin for many reasons but mainly for the message in it and the reality of Rich’s life. I loved that he preferred to be with Indians on a reservation than in concert at a big hall. If you buy the DVD at Walmart-it is only around $12.00 but you will get the extras at the end where Rich’s brother speaks, and others..it is POWERFUL. 

    1. I have been praying for and thinking about you and your family, Rebecca.  Was thinking you probably had a funeral service to attend last week or this week?  I pray that God will be glorified through it all because He specializes in turning the darkest of situations into a platform on which His glory is displayed.  

      1. Mary-you are so thoughtful and I love your gravatar pic. :)) Yes, the funeral was last week. 

    2. No Walmart here, but I’ll look out for the Ragamuffin DVD… May not be available here as our DVDs have a different region code.

      1. Kerryn…..I believe it is available on Amazon.com. (Love hearing there is no Walmart there! 😉 ha!)

  3. Me too Jackie   ~   “Did you believe that I loved you?”    Sometimes I wonder how He can keep loving me.  He knows all of my desperate thoughts and words.   When He took our little girl to heaven 33 years ago I experienced the gamut of emotions, fell into a deep depression and lost the will to live.    He met me in that dark, dark place where no one else could reach or understand.        The times I’ve spent in Lamentations and some of the Psalms over the years have conveyed to me that Someone really does understand me (Thank you Lord).   He is not repelled by my desperate words.    
    Love Michael Card’s book Sacred Sorrow.  (I’ve mentioned it before here.)    The very first lines in the foreword by Eugene Peterson:   It’s an odd thing.  Jesus wept.  Job wept.  David wept.  Jeremiah wept.  They did it openly.  Their weeping became a matter of public record.  Their weeping sanctioned by inclusion in our Holy Scriptures, a continuing and reliable witness that weeping has an honored place in the life of faith.
    Thank you, Dee, for once again providing this format for us.   

    1. I’m glad you keep mentioning the Michael Card book because it sounds SO good and I must remember to get it.

  4. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Rebecca struggling with true lamenting. I often struggle with “a safe line drawn” in my relationship with God. I fear criticism and disapproval if I “dont do it right.”  If I dont have the right heart and intentions. Still thinking I can hide from Him?! But I see that exposing is trusting. 
    This ministered to me:
    She realized then that the Lord was showing her that He was not like her earthly father, who was so critical. If she had lamented to her earthly dad, he would have been unkind or distanced himself emotionally. God wants our honest expressions. He can take it. He wants honesty as He wants intimacy. 

    1. Jill, I’ve been wondering about you because you haven’t been here for a few weeks…I am glad to see you back and hope you are doing okay.

    2. Jill-“But I see that exposing is trusting.” OH sooooo crucial. Missed you while you were gone!

    3. Jill….I’m glad to see you back!   I asked last week if anyone knew how you were and didn’t hear…..and there you are.  🙂  I missed your thoughtful comments.

  5. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    The entire opening, really…lots of emotions welling up inside of me while reading it. Loved seeing the photo of Rebecca, Dee, and Christy, and am so thankful again that God had Rebecca surrounded by close, intimate friends who know Him, and also the beauty of that place, when she received the news. He was able to comfort and minister to her through Dee, through His Word, through nature. Through reading Keller’s initial response to the end of Psalm 39, to Kidner’s words, to Rebecca’s fear to really lament, knowing that if she lamented to her earthly father, she would not have her needs met – I see how I, we, have a desperate need to be understood, to be known, to be received and not rejected.
    How often I have tried to communicate my deepest feelings to someone; my fears, my pain, and have been told things like, “Your problem is you live in a dream world…stop complaining, you have a lot to be thankful for…you’re always so depressed-it must be all of your friends and their problems…what’s wrong with you…” The one that really used to make me mad was “It must be that time of the month…” but since having a hysterectomy a few years ago, we can’t use that one anymore:))
    He is the friend of sinners, a friend who cares, who understands our weakness, who was desperate Himself. He is so unlike most people. Perhaps one of the reasons people react critically or unkindly when we expose our own weaknesses is because it makes them feel uncomfortable; they hate the weakness in themselves and they may see their own fears/weaknesses in us and so they lash out.

    1. Oh Susan……I hear what you are saying about trying to communicate your deepest feelings and being told such insensitive things.  That is so hard.  And it is also hard to ‘bare your soul to someone’ and have them completely ignore that part of your message.  This just happened to me again today.  And it happens frequently when I share anything personal or spiritual with this particular relative of mine.  She is a believer and active in ministry so I feel I should be safe.  But then, I get hurt every time because she isn’t comfortable talking about ‘heart stuff.’  I should know by now, not to expect her to respond with empathy but I keep hoping and I set myself up over and over.        It does reinforce to me that Jesus is the One who truly knows me and loves me anyway.  

      1. I’m sorry for your disappointment, Wanda. I think that we have the hope, certainly, that when we bare ourselves to another believer, that we will be understood on a heart level. But I suppose that that perfect fellowship we long for can only be met by Him, and we are surely blessed if we find a kindred spirit or two in this earthly life.

  6. 1.  What stood out first was the entire topic… It seems SO big, so much, that I feel sorta confused. The Kidner quote helped me focus.
    Also, it is pretty easy for me to understand why one suicide among family (even distant) or friends triggers others. Knowing people who have taken their own lives takes away some of the mystery, sorta removes some of the cultural prohibition, and increases the temptation substantially if it is there in the first place.

  7. 2.  The verse didn’t make much sense to me until I thought about it in the context of Kidner’s quote.  LOVE THE QUOTE. It helps me take the perspective of others who haven’t understood me when I have been honest before the Lord. It also reminds me not to hastily judge others or myself.
    I’m also glad tat Dee wrote that suicide isn’t the unforgivable sin. It is a painful topic — one of those topics that reaches into my insides and twists my stomach.

  8. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    When I was in the early stages of trying to cope with with my daughter’s separation from her husband and children following her ascent into anxiety and depression, I found Lamentations a soothing balm to my troubled soul. When I couldn’t verbalize my pain to anyone else in ways that they understood, it helped to know that God wanted to hear my honest cries of pain, heard my cries and met me there. I still do not see the big picture, but I know He has walked through this unexpected journey with us and is bringing healing, though the repercussions of the rending of the marriage will continue. He is with us.
    By the way, I did not see any words by Brennan Manning at the end of the clip of Ragamuffin, did I miss something??

    1. Diane – the scene sneaks up on you…..at the very end, when they are briefly shown sitting on the porch……
      What you shared about your pain when your daughter’s marraige began to come apart is very poignant for me…..when I was in my mid 20’s and very much a rebellious young woman, my first marraige ended – and we had a 3 year old son.  My mom, who loved Jesus like no one I’ve ever known, was so broken by that season of my life.  I know that I personally brought enormous sorrow into her and my dad’s life.  After she died (8 years later) and I was a believer, I ended up with some of her prayer journals…….wow.  She would have understood your pain so well.  Incredibly, the Lord brought her into a place of amazing peace with everyone involved before she died.  The last couple of years we had with her were so very sweet.  I PRAY that those kinds of days are ahead for you too, Diane!

      1. Jackie and Wanda, thanks for the help with the Rich Mullins trailer. I went back and watched it again. I couldn’t figure out why there were no words when I listened to it !!!??? This time I made sure that my headphone jack was plugged in ALL THE WAY! That helped! :p Sometimes I am dense. I have had this problem with the jack before but usually I figure it out before I ask stupid questions! 🙂 Sorry to bother you!

        1. Also, Jackie, thanks for sharing a bit more of your story. My daughter left an emotionally abusive marriage two years ago. Her husband refused to let her take her three children. She was quite depressed  at the time and agreed to that. We fought it thru the court at his insistence and now she has shared custody though the ex still has primary custody (they live most of the time with him), but  she gets to spend a lot of time with the boys. Things are much better now, though she is still unable to find a job and is currently living with us. She would like to have primary custody but decided not to continue fighting for it through the court process, as it was tearing her apart and just making her ex more belligerent. (A long painful story I won’t go into here.) She was a believer at the time and has since grown in meaningful ways with the Lord. Her ex would say he is a Christian but has acted and is living in ways that cause us to question his faith. Her precious 3 boys are ages 7, 5, and 4. 

        2. Diane – I remember Krista from when I was very briefly on this blog about a year and a half ago.  I have prayed for her from time to time ever since as the Lord brings her to mind.  Her situation was heartbreaking.  Emotional abuse takes a terrible toll on a young woman and can make her feel “crazy”.  Unlike physical abuse even ……you can’t take photos of it as you possibly can with broken bones, bruises, etc.  How precious that she has grown in the Lord through the fire.  How beautiful He is making her through the refining…..and you as well, Diane.  You have been given such gentle wisdom to share with us here…..and I’m grateful to have had a peek at your world.  What are the boys’ names?  

        3. Thanks for your encouraging words, Jackie. Krista’s boys names are Stephen, Josh and Caleb. They are suffering through some kind of stomach bug this weekend. Hopefully they will be better soon. I wouldn’t mind you praying for me as well as I feel at the end of my rope right now as I anticipate an onslaught of extended family here for the next two weeks.

        4. Oh Diane….2 weeks is a LONG time for extended family!!  I hope hospitality is one of your gifts –  :)!!  I will be praying that the blessings will come back at you…….that all of the work and preparation will usher in a peaceful heart as your family visits.  Thanks so much for sharing the boys’ names – names are precious.

    2. Diane as for Manning’s words…..it is the voice who says that ‘when you stand before God, he will ask you one thing and one thing only.  Did you believe that I loved you?’  but I don’t think you know from the trailer that it is Manning talking.    And then he says that a ragamuffin knows that he’s just a beggar at the door of God’s mercy.

  9. 1.  First that Christy and Rebecca kind of look like they could be related, like aunt and niece. 🙂  Secondly, what others have mentioned about the picture representing depression.  I have struggled with it off and on during my life as well, I think because I have a fairly melancholy personality type.  And I love it that Dee spoke head on to the issue of suicide with Believers, still going to heaven.  Since our salvation does not depend on us (accept to believe, repent, and receive) it only makes sense that she would be in heaven and PRAISE GOD it doesn’t depend on us or we would all be in dire trouble. 
    2.  It is reassuring and safe-feelign to know that God is well aware of how we can talk when we are desperate and He is big enough to handle it.  He is not shaken or rattled by anything we say or do and no matter what we THINK of Him (He’s mad at me, He doesn’t love me, etc…) it doesn’t change the truth because truth does not change based on our fickle thoughts or feelings!  Boy is there ever comfort in knowing  that!

  10. Need to make a correction to something I shared last week..   Last blog I mentioned that my sister-in-law (brother’s wife, Linda) works with a science teacher who she said had a sister who had recurrent breast cancer which recurred 22 years ago, and she is still doing fine.  Well, a couple days ago my brother said, “Linda got it wrong, her breast cancer was diagnosed for the FIRST time 22 years ago, we don’t know how long it has been since she was diagnosed with the recurrence.”  Well, I went from feeling so encouraged to DIScouraged.  I had told so many people that story, had to correct it to my parents, friends, here…laying in bed that night I said to God, “I want to know how long it HAS been, Lord!  How long has she survived SINCE the recurrence???”  And then He spoke a simple question to me, “Where is your hope?  Is it in testimonials of others who have your diagnosis… or is it in ME?”  It calmed and quieted my heart instantly and I was able to say, “My hope is in You, Lord.”  Isn’t He so good?  Always these little idols pop up (putting our security in what seems possible, based on what we heard about someone else) but when we get quite with Him, there He is to reel us back in to Himself.  (also it wasn’t a “sister” it was a cousin!  I’m starting to wonder if she even had BREAST cancer, but at least I can laugh about it now, since my hope is not in her story, but in God!)

    1. Mary, So good! “Where is your hope?”. Praying for you.

      1. Thanks, Renee.  I know I would not be doing so well were it not for so many brothers and sisters lifting me up in prayer. 

    2. Mary – so thankful that you shared this.  And that you were so quickly able to reorient your heart to the Lord’s voice.  Your hope is in HIM….and HE gives you laughter, no less!  I learned just this past week that my daughter’s ovarian cancer is actually a recurrence as well……she was diagnosed and treated at the age of 21.  She just turned 25 and her recurrence was diagnosed when she was 23.  I was flabbergasted, but a whole lot of pieces fell into place as she shared the “whole” story with me.  It had been diagnosed early and treatment was considered very successful……well.  Now her situation is considerably more grim.  I do walk daily in HOPE that the Lord will work a miracle in her HEART.  It seems that even in our recent studies so many of us have had a takaway that keeps bringing us to reflect upon eternity and the “little while” that we all have to dwell here in this life.  Oh but how critical are our days here……and how wonderful the “moments”……remember the Ann Voskamp little video?  When Jes turned 25 in July, I was able to share that little video with her…..and she loved it!  But I digress….you are SUCH an encouragement to me, Mary!  

      1. I can’t imagine being in your situation with having a daughter with a cancer diagnoses that is considered terminal, Jackie.  That would be worse than me going through it myself.  I know this absolutely is killing my parents.  Most any parent would rather take a diagnosis like this for their child any day.  Praying for you, Jackie and for your daughter’s salvation!

        1. Thank you Mary.  Are your parents believers?  I will be praying for them as well.  

    3. Mary…..your discovery about ‘where is your hope?’ in anecdotes or in the Lord is so good!  That is the most important part of any diagnosis….to know that where our hope lies never changes.   At  the same time, I CAN say that my sister’s breast cancer that was first dx 16 years ago, recurred 9 years ago and she is doing well.  Works full time.  Lots of home and ministry jobs besides.  And hardly ever slows down.   Has oral chemo every day.  Has had MUCH infusion chemo over the years….but 16 years ago, she did not think she would live to see her children grow up.  Now they are all married and she has 7 grandchildren.  I know this is just another anecdote…but there ARE many encouraging stories out there too!  

      1. Wow, Wanda, thank you so much for sharing that!  Yes, as you said, anecdotal but still it is encouraging and my hope is still in the Lord! 🙂

    4. mary–He is using your pain. Your story here will stay etched with me–“My hope is in You, Lord”. Thanking Him for your courage and that He has brought you here–learning so much more of Him through you

    5. Mary, thanks for sharing how God met you in this, redirecting where your hope lies. He is so very personal and gracious to answer our questions!

  11. Also I’m using a kindergarten pic gravatar this week…next week I think I’ll use my cat…this is what happens when I master a little tidbit  about technology. 🙂

    1. They are Believers, Jackie, and thank you, they so need prayer.  My younger brother died 3 years ago TODAY (had been born with a congenital heard defect, major one, Transposition of the great vessels and lived to 37) so out of three kids they have already outlived one…

      1. OH mary–so sorry for the loss of your brother–and this anniversary. Praying so for you and your family

      2. I will be praying for your parents as well. This is really tough for them – watching a daughter suffer such a serious illness after already losing a son!

        1. I’m praying for you as well, Diane.  Read your post about the situation with your daughter and that must be terribly painful for you to see and not be able to do much about (the kids being with the Dad mostly.)  These things (sin, disease, broken marriages and relationships, death) make use discontent to stay here forever and stir a longing for heaven in our hearts.  To live eternally in a place totally untainted by sin.  That will be heaven!

        2. Thanks, mary, for your prayers. Yes, so many times over the last few years I have “longed for heaven and home” – a place totally untainted by sin, sickness and death.

    2. Mary, is this your cat?  I can’t make this picture out?!

  12. 3a. Images of desperation… Oh WOW…so many that describe depression… Heaviness, light gone from eyes, crushed. Reading the psalm refreshed me on the horror of depression (still on cell, typing with thumb so won’t answer more thoroughly).  May not be able to dig in until mid-week, but I WILL dig in. This looks so helpful.

  13. Sweet Rebecca, still so sorry for your pain, for all of you. Continuing prayers.
    My husband and I loved Rich Mullins, I haven’t seen this movie yet though. But 2 things stood out to me from the trailer: “Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus”. The last several months especially, I have felt the Lord tell me that all of life, all that He allows, all that He provides, is used by Him to help shape me into His image. I had a big emotion-filled paragraph here, but it’s more than anyone wants to know or read, so I’ve deleted! ;0
    The 2nd thing that struck me from the trailer–“This is a game changer.” Rich’s response: “I’m not really sure I want my game to be changed.” There have been times when God has brought things into my life that felt like “game changers”. Things that I knew would be a big part of my story. I’m not one who is typically big on change, so those times, even “good” things felt a bit shakey and unsettling. Sometimes He works that way, and it’s hard to understand what He’s doing. And I’m left with the choice of either shivering with fear of the unknown or trusting in the warmth of His embrace. And I foolishly go back and forth many times!
    Mary–love the pic, funny you look a LOT like MY kinder pic!
    Renee–so happy you are back! Are you home?

    1. In a hotel room in Oslo. Bedtime here!

      1. Renee-good morning??? :))

        1. Now it is 6:21 pm 😉
          Leaving here in 12 hrs … It has been good. Easy to travel here. Would dare go alone. Ready to go home though.

    2. Elizabeth-I highly recommend buying it at Walmart so you can see the special scenes or extras after the movie and can hear Dave Mullins talk. It is a keeper too..so you can show it again to your little ones when they get older perhaps. 🙂

  14. 2. Read Psalm 39:13 and then comment on Kidner’s quote: God knows how men speak when they are desperate.
    When I read vs. 13, what I hear is the cry of a man broken with his own sin, wanting to hid from the loving eyes of the Father. There is that feeling when you know your own sin and you feel so ugly, you can’t receive the Love you know you don’t deserve.
    I really like the quote. I have often been comforted by the thought that God can handle my words—whether they are fear, anger, pain. He will not turn away. Almost like we are with a toddler’s tantrum—in His great compassion He not only allows us to cry out, but He welcomes the honest lament. He knows that we do not even know what we are to pray without the Holy Spirit. And full grace and mercy, He will not become exasperated or turn away in the face of our desperate cries.  As that Ferguson sermon said “He sees that our hand is up”.

      1. “NO WORDS GOD”-love that Dee! Reminds me too of your friend Barbara who emailed you with “NO! NO! NO!” when Steve died–oh so thankful for how He hears those heart felt cries of woe.

    1. Yes, Lord, our hands are up!

    2. Elizabeth-“He will not turn away in the face of our desperate cries.”-this is so crucial for me to rest in!  Man will turn away-even our parents for it is easy for us to become impatient with one another but He is longsuffering.  He sees our hands are up!

  15. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?    The timing of Rebecca being with Dee and Christy when she learned of her sister in law’s suicide.  And the ways she was upheld by sisters who care so deeply and could help her through such sorrow.  And that Jesus does love us and welcome us when we’re desperate.  This past winter, I learned of a suicide of a beloved pastor in the denomination I grew up in.  His family was very honest about his death.  They talked about the dark depression that he was in and that though they could not reach him there….Jesus did.  My own brother in law was with him the night before he died.  His death impacted so many but I think the unsurpassed love of Jesus shone through the darkness.  And that’s what I loved about the Ragamuffin movie too.  I loved Rich’s songs when they were popular and I knew he ‘didn’t go with the flow’ when it comes to contemporary christian music stars….but I did not know the depth of his pain or his struggles with alcohol and with the hurt of his past.  Yes, there were spots in the movie that were cheesy and there were some blatant editing problems but it was honest and it was powerful.  I saw my husband weep throughout the movie.  (themes of father/son relationships are very raw and tender for him who never met his father.  He is also a chem dep professional who works with people hurting from substance abuse every day.  So Mullin’s story hit hard.)  I recommend the movie highly.  And more so than many well done but not so honest Christian films that become popular.    And I just love Manning’s words that a ragamuffin knows he is just a beggar at the door of God’s mercy.  
    2. Read Psalm 39:13 and then comment on Kidner’s quote: God knows how men speak when they are desperate.    
    I remember when Keller shared this Kidner quote.  If means a lot to me.  Yes, we say things in desperation that are wrong, that are not true but God meets us anyway.    This thought is a true comfort to me when I think of Christians who take their own lives.  He knows their hearts.  He understands the desperation.  And grace and mercy meet them.  ” Oh love of God so rich and pure.  So measureless and strong. ” 

    1. Wanda–powerful story of this pastor you knew and how you all were able to see “the unsurpassed love of Jesus shone through the darkness”

  16. Greetings, bible study blog sisters.  This week will be hit and miss for me as far as reading and/or posting comments on the blog.  My husband and I will be on vacation…:).  I printed out the study and will likely be doing it with paper and pencil.
    Jill, you will see a message from me on Facebook…I messaged you prior to making my way on the blog…good to see you back.

    1. Nanci, you’ll be missed but so glad you’re getting vacation!-will pray for His blessing on your time

    2. have a great vacation, Nanci!  

    3. Enjoy your vacation, Nanci!  The pen and paper method is a nice one when you’re all alone with God too!

  17. Nanci,  love how you referred to us as “bible study blog sisters”…..   It has been so good getting to know so many of you who have shared here these past several weeks.   
    Mary, thank you for sharing so openly.   (love your kindergarten picture…… hmmmmm, maybe we should all post a childhood photo some time).  May our God encourage and comfort your mom and dad.
    Susan, thank you for your post:   He is the friend of sinners, a friend who cares, who understands our weakness, who was desperate Himself.  So grateful that He is a friend to me, a sinner.
    Jackie~  What a good idea to share Ann Voskamp’s video with Jes.    I think I will show it to my son Mark.   I took your advice and told him that there is a band of women praying for him.   He told me that last week was the best week he has had all year!    Two days before he went to court last week, some friends gave him an old car (he has been on foot and dependent on public transit or us or friends for rides for the past 4 years.)     His employer gave him an i-phone last week.    The judge allowed him one more chance to fulfill his obligation to the court.      So grateful for your prayers on his behalf.     Praying for the Lord to capture his heart.

    1. So glad to hear the good update on Mark, Nila.  How the Lord has blessed him through people who have reached out to him and how he is seeing that goodness.  Continued prayers.

    2. Mila, continuing to pray for Mark.

      1. Nila!

    3. wow Nila….wave upon wave of mercy crashing down upon Mark!  I also am taking heart that the mercy is coming through the hands of people who are in Mark’s life and know him……to me it’s like his employer and his friends are saying “we believe in you Mark!”.  Good stuff.  Praying God will use every crumb of all of these experiences…..even court, because that was a HUGE mercy!  

    4. Nila, I’m so thankful to hear good news of your son Mark.  I was praying for him…from Dee’s facebook comments.  Thankful us ladies praying for him made him realize he was having a better week!!!

  18. praying in agreement with you about your son, Mark, Nila! 

  19. Sunday Icebreaker:
    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    The very presence of such prayers in Scripture is a witness to His understanding. He knows how men speak when they are desperate.
    I too have struggled with verses such as found in these psalms. Derek Kinder’s words above shed light and create in me an even deeper appreciation of our Savior’s kindness towards us. How so like Him to understand the language of desperate men and women! There is always a tendency in me to do lament the “right way”-saying the right words, posturing the right way, etc. These psalms are reminders again of how I can be real with God and He will not love me any less.

  20. Just watched the special features on the Ragamuffin movie that I had missed when I watched the movie.  (thanks Rebecca!).  The message by Dave Mullins,  Rich’s brother, is so very good and insightful.  What sticks with me is that he talked about why they put in the ugly parts of Rich’s life and didn’t ‘clean it up’.  He made the comparison to King David’s life and how through the  adultery, the murder, we see the goodness of God.  If we cleaned up the story, we would only see a man’s accomplishments.  When we see the dirty, ugly parts of someone, we see God’s goodness overcoming those things.   That’s a total paraphrase of a powerful message.   When you watch the movie…..make sure you watch the message from Dave as well.  He says it so clearly.  Simple.  Yet so profound. 

    1. Thank you Wanda! Great summary of a powerful message which goes so well with our Psalm study here. :)))

    2. Wanda – I have often noted that you glean so much from just about everything in our study!  God has gifted you with such a pondering heart….and we are all the beneficiaries of it here!  I’m always eager to read your perspective.

  21. 2. Read Psalm 39:13 and then comment on Kidner’s quote: God knows how men speak when they are desperate.
    Some translations put it like this, “Leave me alone…” I am not sure what to make of this verse. In most of the psalms we’ve studied, David finds comfort in God’s presence, but here, for some reason, it’s like he’s squirming under God’s gaze. A few of the earlier verses talk about God chastising a man for his iniquity. Was David feeling this? Or was he listening to his own emotions telling him that God could not love him; wanting God to turn His gaze away, not believing that he could be “dark, yet lovely” in His sight? But the brutal honesty of saying to God, in essence, “Leave me alone so I can be happy again” and the comfort of knowing that God understands when our hearts and emotions are in such turmoil that we push Him away…reminds me of a few times when my children were very young, and they got hurt, and I wanted to gather them in my arms and their pride was bruised and their tears hot and they pushed me away and it took some coaxing to finally get them to come to me, to trust that I wasn’t going to say, “I told you so…” God doesn’t take our emotions personally, get mad, and turn His back on us. He listens to our outbursts and He waits…

    1.  But the brutal honesty of saying to God, in essence, “Leave me alone so I can be happy again” and the comfort of knowing that God understands when our hearts and emotions are in such turmoil that we push Him away…reminds me of a few times when my children were very young, and they got hurt, and I wanted to gather them in my arms and their pride was bruised and their tears hot and they pushed me away and it took some coaxing to finally get them to come to me, to trust that I wasn’t going to say, “I told you so…” God doesn’t take our emotions personally, get mad, and turn His back on us. He listens to our outbursts and He waits…

      Susan.….I just saw this now.  This is a perfect illustration to me of how God reaches and loves us even when we turn our backs and want to nurse our tears and pity ourselves for awhile.  The mother/child description is SO precise.  Thank you so much.

  22. I believe this is the short video clip of Brennan Manning that Dee posted on the blog a while ago:http://vimeo.com/28865167.
    This is a clip from a talk he gave where he asks, “Do you believe that I loved you?”

    1. Thanks for posting this, Susan. Can’t pull it up right now but thinking about it refreshes my memory.

    2. Thanks, Susan!    I did not know Brennan Manning until I watched Ragamuffin a few weeks ago.  After watching the movie I found some teaching clips of his as well as some concerts of Rich’s on You Tube.  I was to enthralled with the teaching from both of them.  So real.   I had an invite to go to a Rich Mullins concert not too long before he died.  Because of other conflicts/inconveniences, I turned down going.  In retrospect, wish I had gone.  It’s so good we can listen online!  

      1. I also discovered that you can download The Ragamuffin Gospel free.  It may be just the first chapter.  I downloaded it awhile ago but haven’t read it yet…..

    3. Really liked seeing that video clip, Susan.  Thanks!

  23. Rebecca, I am so very sorry for the loss of your sister-in-law.  How are your brother and kids doing?  And her parents?  How hard it must be to lose a child that way.

    Sister’s I’m here…just being silent.  I’m praying for many of our sisters on Dee’s private facebook page.  Don’t be afraid to come on there..it really is kept private…thanks to Renee.  Thank you Renee for that, as it is a place we can share with one another.

    Jackie…I’ll be lifting your daughter up in prayer….how hard this must be for you.

    1. I echo Joyce’s thoughts about the private facebook page.  It’s also a good way to remember those requests as you can scroll back to them there and also get updates….all in one place.  Always good to hear from you, Joyce.  Your presence is felt often.

    2. Your prayers for Jes bless me Joyce.  Thank you for letting me know!  How is your own dear Kendra…….and how is your back responding to the new procedure you had a couple of weeks ago……I must have missed your update on that (?).  

      1. Thank you Jackie.  Ususally I will ask for prayer and do updates on the private facebook page of Dee’s…as to keep this for the study.  But,  Kendra is doing fine…it’s just so hard taking care of her with my back.  The Pain stimulator didn’t help me after a weeks trial. It helped two friends of mine…but  everybody is different.This wednsday  at 3pm, I go in for a trial shot in my spine of a non-narcotic drug, to see if it would help in a Pain Pump. (different than a Pain stimulizer).   I’m praying it will, because if it doesn’t…Morphine is the next drug to try….for a Pain Pump.   The Dr. assures me not to be scard as it is monitored very closely…but I just don’t like the idea of a narcodic going in my body all the time:(   I’m scard…because I’ve read it’s hard on your heart. My mom and her sister died of heart problems.   Please pray the non narcodic drug will help me. It’s all I can do just to walk out to the street.  I’m bend over in pain and can’t straighten up.   I’m taking vicodine now…it is a narocic and it doesn’t help…even when I double the dose….so I have a gut feeling the non narcodic drug won’t help me…but I’m trying to be positive and trusting in the Lord.  He knows all  and has a plan.  To be quite honest…I’m doubting his love because he gave me a special needs child/adult  to care for , but why am I not going to be able to care for her?  My husband seems to have no sympathy especially when I get to feeling so depressed like I am now.  He ignores me…hoping I’ll  quite crying.  I have no one to talk to.  Kendra just gave mommy a hug, cause I am crying…she is so precious.  I need a church…so I can have fellowship and prayers there too.  I love and appreciate you …my sisters here so much.   I’m so sorry for this.
        My surgent says there is no more surgery he can do. I’m already fused with plates and bults up from my lower back qbout 10 inches.  I have degenerative disks and arthritis so bad.

        1. Did you believe that I loved you?    Lord help me to believe!

        2. Psalms 39:13….my version reads…”Look away from me, that I may know gladness, before I depart and be no more”!

          I feel no hope when I read this verse:(

        3. Joyce – I guess I need to check out that private group on facebook…..I’m trying to rarely be on FB though!  Your answer is so helpful in terms of how to pray.  And I didn’t even realize the magnitude of the back issues either.  Oh Heavenly Father….please help your precious child Joyce to rest under the shadow of your wings this day.  Jesus, you have said “Come to me…..all who are heavy laden….and you will find rest for your souls….”   Please show Joyce today that she is linked to you in that yoke, that the two of you are right there together under the burden.  Thank you for Kendra.  Thank you that Kendra’s tenderness can move Joyce’s heart like no other.  Thank you that Joyce has found a fellowship of sisters here who PRAY for her, for Kendra and for her husband and family.  I do pray for a local body of Christ for Joyce to fellowship with.  Oh Father, she needs the body just now.  WE all so do.  It is so hard for us to figure out what we see……Kendra’s needs now coupled with Joyce’s serious back troubles.  Please help Joyce to see today, like Elisha’s servant in 2Kings 6, that she is surrounded with your overwhelming, firey presence.  Help her to hope in You this day.  Amen.

        4. Oh Joyce,  It breaks my heart to read your post.  I am so sad you are in such pain and feeling hopeless.  You are so loved and how I hope that there are people near by who can be the hands and feet of Christ for you during this hard, hard time.  I will be praying for that as well as for the appt. on Wednesday…that it will help.  Speak peace to your soul, dear sister.

        5. Joyce, it tears my heart that you are living in such pain physically and emotionally, and knowing you have to care for Kendra. Oh Lord, be merciful to our sister Joyce. Meet her in her time of need. Oh, Lord, we need you. O we need you. How can we go on without your grace and mercy!
          I am grateful that you have found some comfort and encouragement here. We love you and you are such an encouragement to us here as well.

        6. Joyce, please know you are loved dear sister. I have so appreciated your prayers and support for Sarah all these years. I can’t imagine what you have to endure with the constant back pain. I have had back troubles in the past and did suffer. However, some adjustments to my living style have helped me along the way; a new memory foam pad for my bed, a memory foam pillow, no more carrying a purse, etc. I feel like your back is much worse than mine, but I do think I somewhat understand your plight. You are a saint when it comes to Kendra! Thank The Lord she has you. God loves you both so much. I will pray for your pain.

        7. Joyce, thank you for the update; I was also wondering how that procedure you had done a few weeks ago was working, and I’m so sorry to learn that it didn’t help you. And I feel so badly for you too, Joyce, that you bear so much physical pain every day and emotional pain and have no one to talk to. Joyce, I don’t know if this is a possibility, but I am wondering if a local church near you has any kind of a mentoring program…not that you need to be mentored by another Christian woman as, say, an older more mature woman comes alongside a new believer, but many churches that have women’s ministries have something where they can pair you up with another Christian woman so the two of you can meet…perhaps a lady could come to your home for a time of fellowship, sharing concerns, and prayer, and usually women arrange to meet weekly or every other week. It’s just an idea. Also, I do know some people, including my dad, who regularly see an acupuncture doctor for pain management. My dad goes about once a month. He has spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal that compresses nerves and causes pain and difficulty walking) and also neuropathy that a few years ago was making it hard for him to walk. His doctors said there was nothing further they could do for him and to expect that he’d be in a wheelchair soon. He still is limited as to the distance he can walk, but the acupuncture treatments have helped him keep his mobility. You have to be careful in choosing a doctor; my dad’s acupuncture doctor is an MD who is also an anesthesiologist.
          I’ll be praying for the trial shot you’re receiving this afternoon, and just for you, Joyce.

        8. Joyce….I just read Susan’s thought about being matched with another woman from a church ministry….for encouragement and someone to talk to.  I think this would be such a boost to you, if you had the opportunity.  In my church, we have a program called Steven Ministry and this is exactly how it works.  A woman who has gone through some training in basic listening/encouraging skills comes alongside another who is discouraged or struggling for any number of reasons.   When I was on staff at my church, I was going through hard times struggling with a variety of things and I asked if I could be matched with a Steven minister.  Because I was on staff, the leader of the ministry felt it best that someone from a different church was matched with me.  We just met weekly for a period of a few months at our convenience and it was really good to have a listening ear.  Something to consider if there’s a ministry like this nearby.  Prayers for you today, Joyce.  

  24. I’m loving the visual on the acapella arrangement of I Need Thee. So true, so true.  But Lord I need You EVERY MOMENT!  Thank You for Your promise that You will NEVER leave nor forsake us! What a mighty God we serve.  Now let’s go live like it!!  (encouragement, not a rebuke!)

    1. mrsheartsong-loved your encouragement!

  25. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Did you believe that I loved you? Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.
    I believe, but so often, it’s not enough. I want more… I need more and I turn elsewhere. And in the last week, I’ve been reading Counterfeit Gods (Tim Keller) and it’s speaking clearly about what is going on in my heart. Working on replacing one of those idols, but right now my heart is wanting the idol back.
    2. Read Psalm 39:13 and then comment on Kidner’s quote: God knows how men speak when they are desperate.
    At the moment, I can relate that to letting go a comforting idol… Couldn’t you just let me be where I was? Lots of people get on just fine with their idols. I was happy enough, but now I’m not. Lord, leave me alone.
    I’ve had a few busy days here. Mostly work. I have a funeral to conduct tomorrow and after that, maybe it will calm down for a little.

  26. What stood out to you from the above and why? I related to Rebecca’s fear of really letting go in  her lament. It is hard to know where right and holy fear of God and unbelief about his goodness intersect in my heart. I am so sorry Rebecca about your sister in law. I pray for her children.

    2. Read Psalm 39:13 and then comment on Kidner’s quote: God knows how men speak when they are desperate.
    My first thought was that we are always needy and desperate, it isn’t often that we realize it.

    1. Chris, SO GOOD to have you with us this week!! :)))  Your answer to #2 is true-it isn’t often we realize it!  Lord help us to see our desperate hearts-our neediness. Help us bend toward you and not the things that beg for our attention every day for then we might see your holiness and then those places inside-the sin that entangles us and blocks intimacy with you..remind us that you see our hands are up that while you are not safe you are good! You are faithful, You are long suffering in my lament..Thank you that you endured God turning His face away from you in your lament so that HE will never turn his face from me. In your name alone I pray amen.

  27.     A. What images of desperation do you see?
    Desperation to escape the disciple of God & the consequences of sin
    physical anguish, loneliness, fear, despair, sorrow
        B. What glimpses of the suffering Messiah do you see behind David?
    Gods hand came down on Christ because of His indignation with me and my iniquities. He was crushed and bruised in my place, He groaned and His friends stood far off, a snare was laid for Him and He did not open His mouth, argue or reply. 
        C. What resolve do you see in verse 15? To hope in spite of circumstances, in spite of the weight of despair

    1. Chris–always makes me smile when you pop in. An especially hard time of year now too, much love to you sister~

  28. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Rebecca being with Dee when she heard of her sister – in – laws suicide. I am so thankful for that mercy God gave her. Also, the picture of the deck and lounge chair at the waters edge; so beautiful and calming. Finally, I hope I get to see the Ragamuffin movie. Can you find it on netflix? We don’t have cable.
    2. Read Psalm 39:13 and then comment on Kidner’s quote: God knows how men speak when they are desperate.
    I don’t know if I understand the bible passage. He wants God to turn away? He doesn’t want Him to look at him? Is it because he is ashamed? Is it because he can’t feel “good” about his actions knowing God is watching him? So, if that is all the case, then Derek Kidner’s quote would mean that it doesn’t matter, God knows anyway regardless if He turns away or not. He knows all.

    1. Ragamuffin is sold at Walmart and Amazon.  Maybe other places?  (the one I bought, said ‘only at Walmart’  ??  I don’t usually shop there but went just for the movie 🙂 )  My friend ordered from Amazon.

    2. Thanks for admitting your confusion cuz I feel the same.  You explained it well and helped me understand  Psalm 39: 13, which made me think of these verses in Isaiah:
      3And one called out to another and said,         “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts,         The whole earth is full of His glory.”
      4And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.
      5Then I said,         “Woe is me, for I am ruined!         Because I am a man of unclean lips,         And I live among a people of unclean lips;         For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
      Are we on the right track?

        1. Thank you Marsha and Dee.  I agree that both of these reasons are in place at times.

  29. 3. Read Psalm 38 out loud to yourself.
        A. What images of desperation do you see?
    It seems that David is physically struggling; like the image of Job scratching himself with pottery. I sometimes refer to that when I am down. In fact this is really hitting a nerve with me in that Sarah has had an undiagnosed rash for a few weeks now and I keep trying to get her to go to the doctor. she says she will go and then doesn’t. I may need to go down and take care of her in a few days.
    David says he is pierced by arrows and God’s hand has come down on him. I also think of people who have a funny “pasty” pallor to their skin; like they need to be out in the sun and fresh air. That reminds me of the movie “The Secret Garden.”  He is weak; he has no strength and his back aches. 
        B. What glimpses of the suffering Messiah do you see behind David?
    I see the piercing, the aching back, the lack of wellness at all.  It is morning. He says he can’t see anymore, he lacks friends, he longs for God, he sighs. He is at the lowest of lows.
        C. What resolve do you see in verse 15?
    Regardless of how long this lasts, he says he will wait. He is confident God will answer.
        D. What does David do in verse 16?
    He prays for his enemies to not rejoice in his demise?
        E. What plea is given in verses 21-22?
    He begs God to be close to him and not forsake him.
        F. How is this plea similar to Christ’s words on the cross?
    Christ asks God why he has been forsaken. “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ).” (‭Matthew‬ ‭27‬:‭46‬ NIV)

  30. 3. Read Psalm 38 out loud to yourself.
        A. What images of desperation do you see?
     Answer:  sorrow over sin, to the point of even making himself sick over it, feeling utterly alone in life, even rejected by God, feeling threatened on every side, at a loss for words
        B. What glimpses of the suffering Messiah do you see behind David?
    Answer:  Jesus took that weight of sin and all that despair that it encompasses upon Himself for us, physically, emotionally, spiritually, in every way.  So He must have felt all that David was feeling over His sin, physically sick over our sins, rejected by God for our sins, utterly alone in life as He could not bear this cross or burden of our sin with anyone else, He was truly alone, and He did not make an answer when He was accused in court, so w/out words
        C. What resolve do you see in verse 15?
    Answer:  David is going to place his hope in the Lord because He will answer
        D. What does David do in verse 16?
    Answer:  looks like he speaks to himself about not wanting the his enemies (sometimes I think about THE enemy) to “rejoice over him”  when his foot slips
        E. What plea is given in verses 21-22?
    Answer:  For God to not forsake him and to HURRY to help him and save him…because he is so desperate…we are all so desperate for God, even when we are not as acutely aware of our desperate need.  At certain times we are just more acutely aware of it, but we are always desperate for HIM.
        F. How is this plea similar to Christ’s words on the cross?
    Well, David asked God NOT to forsake him, Jesus asked God WHY He forsook him…we have the assurance of NOT being forsaken by God because Jesus, for an instant, when He took our sin, WAS forsaken by God.

  31. 2. Read Psalm 39:13 and then comment on Kidner’s quote: God knows how men speak when they are desperate.
    What comes to my mind as I read Psalm 39 is times when God is revealing sin to me. Deep sin. While I am grateful for the correction, guidance, and increased intimacy my heart sometimes wearies of the ‘burden’ of self-evaluation and seeing the ick in me and confused at what to do with it…a part of me wishes to go back to ignorance- to smile again. I feel desperate because I cannot refine my own heart and want His gaze off me so that I can rest. But I know that He is good in His revelations and the end is sweeter than ignorance. When I view it as something I have to do it is burdensome but when I submit and expose and just draw near then the burden lifts because it is then about Him. Even when I cry to be left alone (the desire to escape) He stays. An unanswered prayer is answered prayer? 

    1. Jill, that is powerful and so well said.  

    2. Jill….your feelings on Psalms 39:13 helps me alot, as I see myself as you do at times.  I feel in deep sin and want to hide…like the man humped over…hidding..that Dee put on here.  I want to hide from my wrenched,  vulgar heart.” Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”  Psalms 139:23Forgive me Lord, for my doubting, heart.   My refuge and my fortress…in God in whom I trust!!

    3. “An unanswered prayer is answered prayer?”
      I would say yes…sometimes we ask for things that really aren’t in our best interest; thankfully God knows what is best and doesn’t give us what we are asking for for our own good.

  32. 3. Read Psalm 38 out loud to yourself.
    A. What images of desperation do you see? There is an overall sense of being physically overwhelmed. “For my iniquities have gone over my head [like a flood],” “I am bent and bowed down greatly…mourning all the day long.” I am reminded of not being able to breathe….
     B. What glimpses of the suffering Messiah do you see behind David?
    “My back is filled with searing pain.” 
    “…even the light has gone from my eyes.”
    “Those who want to kill me set their traps, those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they scheme and lie.”
    “Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God.” 
    C. What resolve do you see in verse 15? Even in his suffering he will wait for God. I always want suffering to end quickly and just escape it but David has resolved to wait…to trust even though suffering continues. 
    D. What does David do in verse 16? He petitions God. I think that he is asking for those against him do on not have the final victory. That even though they boast against him when his foot slips that they would not ultimately rejoice over him, have the final victory. 
    E. What plea is given in verses 21-22? To not be abandoned. For God to be close. That He would help quickly. So even though David has resolved to wait and trust he still asks for the suffering to be over soon. However, the help David is asking for may not come in circumstances but in his heart. I think this is part of drawing near to God. Of revealing our hearts to Him. To trust Him enough to wait but also lament to Him that we do not want to suffer. It’s ok to not want to suffer but I cannot sin in that and make not suffering an idol or an ultimate demand or have it threaten my understanding of God’s characteristics. 

    1. Jill….your answeres are a balm to my soul tonight…just what I needed to hear…..Bless you! “I think this is part of drawing near to God. Of revealing our hearts to Him. To trust Him enough to wait but also lament to Him that we do not want to suffer. It’s ok to not want to suffer but I cannot sin in that and make not suffering an idol or an ultimate demand or have it threaten my understanding of God’s characteristics.”

  33. P.S. I just wanted to say thank you, sisters, for your kind comments and welcome back above. Your care brought tears to my eyes. What a blessing you all are. 

    1. Your loved here so much Jill….just as all my sisters here are!

  34. Jill, thank you.   You have articulated what I wasn’t sure how to say.  It is a desperate thing to realize that I cannot refine my own heart and is discouraging when I cycle around and around with the same issues at times.    But, I am so grateful that He doesn’t abandon me.  That He sees beyond the ugly and keeps summoning me to draw near.

  35. 3. Read Psalm 38 out loud to yourself.
        A. What images of desperation do you see?  a feeling of being pierced by arrows and being severely punished (heavy hand upon me).  Being the object of God’s wrath and feeling much physical pain.  Feeling punished physically because of sin.  Overwhelming guilt.  Constant mourning.   Many physical, very painful symptoms. feeble.  utterly crushed.  Longings open before the Lord.  sighing.  the light gone from my eyes.  strength….(energy) fails (lethargy?)  Forsaken by friends and companions who no longer want to be with me.  Feelings of utter despair in feeling like I can’t speak.  I can’t hear.    So many dire and desperate images.    Utterly crushed, sighing, moaning, no strength, no ‘spark’ in the eye, complete aloneness……stand out most to me.  
        B. What glimpses of the suffering Messiah do you see behind David?  Taking on all of God’s wrath. (vs.  1-4)   At first the descriptions of sin don’t seem to fit for Jesus and then I realize that Jesus BECAME sin.  He took on all of MY sin and the sin of the world and then the whole section is so very descriptive of the suffering servant.  Overwhelming guilt….a burden too heavy to bear. (vs. 4)   Bowed down,  brought low,  Feeble, utterly crushed, groaning in anguish.  (vs. 5,6)  Oh the scenes of Jesus being flogged and whipped,  mocked, beaten and insulted.  The images of Jesus utterly crushed and brought low in anguish in the Garden.  The scenes of Jesus being completely abandoned by God on the cross.    Yet, his sighing is not hidden from God.  He cries out….’My God, my God….why have you forsaken me’  (Ps. 22)  and the plea in vs. 21,22…..’O Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God.  Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.”   

  36.  C. What resolve do you see in verse 15?  I WAIT for you.  You WILL answer.    Wow.  Such confidence after such anguish.  What a profound and clear answer for my own struggles…..for times when I only feel ‘How long, O Lord?’…..I must remember to WAIT and that He WILL answer.  
        D. What does David do in verse 16?  He makes a sure statement and request to God that his enemies wouldn’t gloat (wouldn’t ‘win’ the battle and that they would not laud themselves as David slips.  In essence, when read with verse 15,  he is proclaiming that God is able to come to his defense and to turn back the enemies.
        E. What plea is given in verses 21-22?  I guess I answered this in B above without knowing the question was coming.
        F. How is this plea similar to Christ’s words on the cross?  Jesus cried out…’WHY have you forsaken me?’  Here, David writes….’do not forsake me..be not far from me.’ 

  37. 3. Read Psalm 38 out loud to yourself.    A. What images of desperation do you see?
    Physical, emotional, and spiritual anguish. Attacked by arrows, the Lord’s hand coming down against him. “No soundness in my flesh”—he feels crazy? He is physically ill, heavy laden with guilt, wounded.
    This is a hard read. I felt my emotions swell.

        B. What glimpses of the suffering Messiah do you see behind David?
    The burning in His sides. The piercing—His hands, His feet. The cries to God to not forsake Him.
        C. What resolve do you see in verse 15?
    For You o Lord do I wait. This reminded me of (our) Mary E. when she turned her hope back to the Lord. He alone is the One who supplies our hope.
        D. What does David do in verse 16?
    He pleads with God to not allow his enemies to rejoice over him and boast about his failings.
        E. What plea is given in verses 21-22?
    He begs the Lord to not leave him, to stay close to him, to help him. He praise who God is—the God who gives salvation.   
    F. How is this plea similar to Christ’s words on the cross?
    He cries out to God in Matthew 27:46 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And then I love how He calls God Father, and releases Himself to him, Luke 23:46 “”Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

  38. I’m just delighting in reading all of the responses to the scriptures you all have been sharing since yesterday……it’s so much more than I can take in!  Meanwhile, even though I answered question #1 already, I seem to be stuck there yet……(it was “that kind” of Sunday!).  I went and got the movie Ragamuffin and watched it – SO glad that I did!  Dare I say aloud here that I’ve never been a huge Rich Mullins person?  With the EXCEPTION of “Hold Me Jesus”……one of my all time ever heart songs!  THANK YOU DEE for posting it – I think I’ve listened at least a dozen times since last night!  I was deeply moved on so many levels by the movie, that’s for sure.  I look forward to you giving us some deeper digging on that in the future, Dee!  As for Brennan Manning – several years ago I discovered him and read probably a half dozen or so of his books and loved them…..while at the same time being a little uneasy…..which doesn’t have to be a “bad” thing!  Still,  I’m a bit cautious about his theology as a whole.  Like anyone we get excited about, we always need to be Bereans, right?  I think his question that we’ve been looking at a bit is a good one (as I referenced in my first #1 answer!)……but I’m not sure I’d be quite so emphatic about being convinced that it’s the ONE question we’ll be asked at the judgement……unless Scripture supports that of course!  The wonderful thing is:  I’m going to dig a bit deeper and think a bit more on this…….what DOES the whole of Scripture say on this?  Jesus himself, for starters, in Matt 25:31-46 might support this…..as the sheep there have surely been pouring out their lives, motivated by the security and wonder of the love of Christ…….those sheep believed they were LOVED by Jesus!    Well…..sorry for the wandering…..
    Rebecca – you and your family continue in my prayers.  Today I was thinking about your nieces…..that the grief must be so awful…..and the burden of the suicide…..and not the first in their family…….they may be tempted to be shaken to their very core as to their legacy.  How I pray that they will be able to have the FAther’s compassion for their precious mom.  I pray that many wise and tender ones will come alongside them in the days and years to come……and whisper continually in their ears that they are loved with an everlasting love.  I pray that out of their season in the fire will come pure gold.  I can only echo what so many here have shared….wasn’t God so gentle with you Rebecca…..to have you tucked away in that beautiful place, with such women of God’s own heart, when the shattering news came to you.  

      1. I might have to frame that response, Dee!  :)!

    1. Jackie.….I also am quite sure I would not agree with the whole of Manning’s teaching.  I actually had never heard of him until this movie and then I watched some of his teaching online…..not much really.  I’m intrigued by The Ragamuffin Gospel because I see him bridging a gap that so many theologians do not.  It appears from what little I know of him, that he was reaching the addicts and the outcasts and the misfits.  Having been the ‘good girl’ who followed the ‘rules’ all the time, my natural response would probably be to sort of reject his ‘theology’ BUT as I’ve spent much more time with the misfits and the outcasts and especially through my husbands work with the addicted……I find it refreshing when someone like Manning can reach someone like Mullins.  Of course, GOD is doing the reaching……but you know what I mean. I too don’t think that his question is inspired as the only question God will ask per scripture BUT I really like how it was used to open up Rich’s past and allow him to work through his pain.  I grew up in churches with such a VERY limited and judgmental view of whose teaching was acceptable to read and listen to  (and in some cases, still hear a lot of that narrow view in my current church) that I have loved to open my heart and mind to so much more in my adult years.  That said, I reject much of the teaching that happens in churches and trends on the Christian bookshelves. I agree.  We always need to be Bereans and search for the truth.  I also think that many different messages…piece together as part of that truth. In my church, we have one pastor who preaches apologetics a LOT of the time, another who teaches very systematically through the Word from an academic perspective and the one I relate to the most (the one who just retired 🙁 ) teaches a lot from a broader base…..brings in much that the church fathers taught and also really hits on the gospel as Keller would teach. Their emphasis each touches different people I think.  As I re-listened to my Rich Mullins CD’s following the movie, I found a lot of songs that didn’t really move me a lot…..some because of the style….some because of the lyrics.  BUT WOW!….he has some amazingly penetrating lyrics too.   About war and injustice  in  ‘The Howling’ and ‘While the Nations Rage.’  Several songs that speak to my heart about the intimacy of the love of God:  ‘Let Mercy Lead’ , the verses to ‘Step by Step’ recorded as ‘Sometimes by Step’  and My One Thing.  I really like that he sings the Apostle’s Creed in Creed.  I also LOVE ‘Hold Me Jesus’  but my favorite, favorite favorites! are ‘If I Stand’    and ‘The Love of God’.  I think that what I liked best about him is that he didn’t ‘go with the flow’ of Nashville and walked away from the fame and the image…..he made mistakes but he teaches me a lot.  I have a hard time with the ‘image’ of Christian music many times.   I think it’s SO interesting that both he and Keith Green were so intense, so prophetic, so counter culture…..and God took them both so young.   My brother told me after he read Keith Green’s biography , ‘No Compromise’ that it seemed to him that  someone SO full of passion may have just burned out…..had he lived a long time.  Just a thought.   I’m also looking forward to a discussion of the movie!  Thanks for bringing these things up!   Oh and thank you so much for your kind words to me earlier.   Really appreciated!  (And I’d encourage you to join the facebook prayer page too.  It’s a good forum for sharing heart needs that aren’t always able to be publicly shared.)  

      1. Wanda – Great thoughts and I agree!  I listened to a lot of Rich Mullins on You Tube after watching the movie…..I’m sorry that in the past when I “heard” of him I just sort of thought “Christian artist” and didn’t look deeper!  After watching the movie and giving some of his music a re-listen, I was pretty chastened that I’d overlooked him for many years!  His music is powerful, but, like you, I’m most taken by the behind the scenes kind of things……living on the average american worker’s salary and giving the rest away…..the time spent on the Navaho reservation…..moving to Kansas to be near a mentor…..and even the way he talked too much at his concerts!  There’s a YouTube version of Step by Step where he talks for probably over half of the 6+ minutes – and I listened to it 3 times because what he said was well worth more than one listen!  Thanks for the followup, at any rate  – good food for thought.

        1. Thanks!  I will look for that You Tube version of Step by Step!  🙂  I’m learning WAY more about him than I ever knew when he was doing concerts and putting out CD’s!  Thankful for You Tube actually!

  39. Diane–you were on my heart today and as I prayed for you all, I wondered how Joel is doing?

    1. Oh, God bless your tender heart, Elizabeth, for listening to God’s prompting to pray for me today. I can’t go into details but I feel under attack today. Joel is doing well. He is working almost full time for the past few months and also has a girlfriend (an exciting and scary venture for all of us as he has had some sad experiences in the past). Thanks so much for asking. Our other son, wife and kids will be here later this week for a visit.

      1. oh so much at once Diane–are they coming for your birthday? Will continue to lift you all up, this week and the boys’ health too–for good family time!

        1. Praying in agreement with Elizabeth on this, Diane!

      2. Will keep you in prayer these next weeks too, Diane.  I understand so well the ‘exciting and scary’ venture of girlfriends/boyfriends and the fear of heart break.  Hope the time with your family is sweet.

  40. Praying also for you Diane…and Happy Birthday soon?!!  Your already over flowing with a housefull….so may this visit from your son and family be a comforting, peaceful  time with all your loved ones….praying they all pitch in,  helping you with meals and clean ups!  BlessingsThank you all my sweet sisters for helping me get through a tough evening  with your wonderful comments  and thoughts…Mary, Jill, Wanda, Jackie, Susan, Nila, Diane, Rebecca and Elizabeth.  And especially  you Dee, for asking the right questions to get me to search for the right answers and finding comfort in them.I’m feeling much better and so loved and forgiven and trusting, trusting, trusting!

    1. I forgot Kerryn and Ernema!When I submit and then want to click to edit…it won’t let me edit…space or anything.   What is David’s email?  Or maybe its just me.  I got my home computor fixed from being hacked….but it’s not running right.  I need a new computor…but it costs so much:(

  41. 3. Read Psalm 38 out loud to yourself.
        A. What images of desperation do you see?
    His sin against God’s holiness is melting him-so stark-so stinging it is like God’s arrows have sunk into him-wow..what a picture of what it feels like when we see His holiness and our sin. He is in deep pain-deep and searing and is prostrate on the ground. He is desperate inwardly groaning because of the tumult in his heart. His folly has turned around and bit him so deep it is like a festering and growing wound inside that doesn’t heal. He is alone in this-all his friends have turned away from him, and he runs to God for God is His hope-He knows God is faithful and won’t leave him.
        B. What glimpses of the suffering Messiah do you see behind David?
    I see the pain Jesus endured when taking on our sins..to think He is holy yet took on our sins on the cross-how utterly horrifying and painful that was. Jesus took on our shame, our guilt, our wounds-he felt all of this and he was completely alone-He knows desperation what it feels like to have no hope-to be separate from God! Men mocked Him. Then God forsook Him..He was utterly alone. He tasted hell.  
        C. What resolve do you see in verse 15?
    He will wait for God to answer..There is a surety-a confidence here in the middle of his desperation that God is faithful and approachable with all of his desperation, weaknesses, sin..and God will never shun him for pouring out his desperation to Him like his friends have.
     E. What plea is given in verses 21-22?
    To not forsake him or be far from him because of his sin but to come quickly to help him.
        F. How is this plea similar to Christ’s words on the cross?
    When Jesus was taking on our sin on the cross and God turned his face away..Jesus was desperately alone and desired to be with God, and was desperate for God to rescue Him.  He cried out, My God my God why hast thou forsaken me!

  42. Rich was my husbands favorite artist….I will never forget where I was when I heard about his death and I will never forget the look on Pauls face when I told him. He wouldn’t believe me. I have never seen Paul cry, but this was the very closest I ever saw. So THAT is what I think of as soon as I hear anything about Rich. Its funny how people who struggle with depression often can not cry, its as if that pressure valve that God gave us in tears is broken. I often wonder if letting ourselves REALLY lament and grieve helps us from going into a long term/chemical depression….just wondering out loud.
     As soon as I started reading this post the songs “Jesus, friend of sinners”  and “Jesus Hold me now” by casting crowns came to my head.  I cant get the links to work but I will share them on my FB page.
    Still really struggling with my youngest. lost my temper last night AGAIN. I wonder if God gave her to me just to keep me humble! I worry about her a lot. I know I need to PRAY not worry!!! Is it wrong to  not be able to wait till she goes back to school????? I HATE myself for feelign htis way! please pray that God would put a greater affection for her into my heart!
    really cool praise with Lily that I won’t take up the room here to share but here if you want to read about it its at http://www.gracefullparenting.blogspot.com

    1. Cyndi, LOVE your Lily story!

  43. 2.  I’m agreeing with Jill and Elizabeth and others who see this verse in the context of sin.  verses 10 &11 would indicate to me that the particular desperation of this verse is in view of God’s hand of discipline for my sin.  I love Kidner’s quote – and would think it’s well supported throughout the whole of scripture….though I do think the lens for this PARTICULAR verse is more laser focused on the anguish of being under God’s hand of discipline for our sin.  Though there is a lot of encouragement to be found in Heb 12:5&6….calling us to perserverance even as we cry out for mercy….and v.11 of that chapter is the “gold”….”For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”  Hang on everyone…..better days ahead!

  44. Reviewing Michael Card’s book Sacred Sorrow this week while we study Psalm 39.    I often need reminding ~
    From chapter 1:
    “There exists within American Christianity a numb denial of our need for lament.  Some theologians go so far as to say these biblical laments no longer apply to us.  And so the language of confession sounds stranger and stranger to our ears.  It is heard less and less in our churches, and when it is voiced, rarely are our sins genuinely lamented.   Through lament, we regain both a sense of awareness and a language to express the hopeless depth of our sin.  We discover a way to enter the Presence and there experience the despair that comes as a result of unconfessed sin.  After all, can sins be sincerely confessed until their lamentable-ness is deeply felt by us and submitted to God for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus?
    ……..The laments of Scripture can help us relearn this lost language.  Characters like Job, David, Jeremiah, and even Jesus provide us paradigms of lament.  They all freely spoke the language of lament that in the end cost them so much.  They demonstrated for us lives lived in the freedom of lament. “

  45. 5. Read Psalm 39 aloud.
       A. What phrases and pictures of lament stand out to you? Vs 5 “Behold, Thou hast made my days as  handbreadths, And my lifetime is nothing in they sight, Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.” -lament over how fleeting life is and how insignificant he feels. 
       B. What prayer does he make in verses 12-13? Why is this startling?    
    He asks God to stop looking at him so that he can be happy again.  It’s startling because even though he may be living with consequences of sin, ultimately God is not the cause of our sorrow (the sin was/is), He is the balm when we run to Him for refuge. He may permit things we don’t understand which cause us suffering but He also wants to be the comfort in the midst of that.
       C. What does this teach you about God’s heart for the desperate?
    He is “mindful that we are but dust” (Psalm 103:14) and understands that sometimes we will see things from this “dust” perspective and does not resent our desperation and desperate words but is just waiting for OUR gaze to turn back to Him (since He really never turns His away from us.)

  46. Jackie,  thank you for the verses in Hebrews 12.   Yes!  Hanging on to the strong, sure  hope that there are better days ahead.   

  47. Oh oh….my answer to 3A “disappeared”, so I’ll try again….
    3A.   from verse 2…..”For your arrows have sunk into me.”  This is total anguish….body, soul and spirit….requiring total TRUST that my Abba loves me.  He alone knows “how long?” for He is my trustworthy Sovereign God, who disciplines perfectly.  I love how Job phrases much the same idea in Job 6:4  “For the arrows of the almighty are in me; my spirit drinks their poison.”  Oh my.  
    It’s hard for me to say just how this “season” of my life is the Lord’s hand of discipline…..but I do think that it is just that….perhaps along with other things that I simply do not know.  Throughout this season of sorrow, He is peeling back the scales from my eyes…..I’m seeing that perhaps my whole life has been leading up to this season…….one verse reverberates with me just now:  Luke 14:26  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”  Two things He is showing me:  my incredible deep down selfishness….and that my “love” for my family exceeds my love for Jesus.  And so……the sorrows of my life  – the arrows and their poison – have sunk deep into me through the pain of my family members and my relationships with them.  Sorrow and grief unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before.  But this is good.  I’m only just now beginning to want Jesus most of all.  To want to sit at His feet like Mary did.  To sit with Isaiah 53, for starters, and let myself be pierced by who He truly is.  And so much more.  

  48. Oh dear….I actually was answering the wrong question for 3A!  But I guess I’ll let it stand because it “sorta” fits if you squeeze it!    
    3B.  I guess the glimpses of the Messiah behind David would be the suffering He endured when the weight of all of our sins came down upon him on the cross.  In that sense all of this Psalm could fit – with the exception of v. 18, the confession of sin – Jesus had no sin to confess.  But in every other way, David’s suffering would only be the slightest shadow of the anguish he endured because of the sin of mankind.