(All verses mentioned in this article are from Psalm 139)
There are times when the heart feels dry; times when sadness feels like a big weight on our shoulders. There are also times when the heart feels far away from God. Our brain says “He’s here!” or “He lives inside me!” but the heart can feel otherwise. During times like these, it is good to go to the Psalms.
One particular Psalm that speaks to my heart during difficult times is Psalm 139. The first few verses go:
O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
I have taken comfort in the fact that I have a God who knows me (and has known me!) completely. It takes off whatever feelings I have to perform before Him, and it removes my tendencies to mask whatever “wrong” feelings I feel. I can be honest—with myself and with God. He knows my thoughts, He knows the words that I am about to speak, He knows my sleeping times, my eating times, my sitting times. He knows when I am tired and how I respond to things—He KNOWS me! I can tell him straight, “Lord, I feel bad!” or “Lord, I feel far. Can You see me? Do you still love me?”
When my heart is cloudy, dark, and far; when the Bible seems too difficult to understand; when my own heart is something that baffles me, I can cling to these verses:
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My darkness does not scare God. My feelings and my situations do not change how He sees me. He loves me. He carried me in His heart for millennia—down through history– until it was time to birth me through my mother. If the darkness of my non-existence was there –even the darkness of sin passed down from Adam—then that can only mean one thing: whatever present “darknesses” I have in my heart are known by God. AND HE STILL LOVES ME.
Yes. Jesus sees me—and He sees YOU– perfectly with eyes brimming with love. Darkness doesn’t scare Him. Our questions don’t terrify Him. Our feelings of being far from Him are NOT what He feels. In our darkness, Jesus is STILL light.
If in our darkest beginnings, we were already known; if in our mother’s dark womb, we were intimately fashioned; then what does that say about God’s character or His feelings toward us? Are they dependent on what we feel? Are they dependent on our mistakes? Our dark sins? How far we think we are
Despite ourselves, God pursues us:
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
Our loving Lord is with us, no matter what we go through or feel. At the end of the day, we can rest in the Lord’s arms knowing that He is holding us. He is leading us. Our questions, our “darknesses,” our feelings, can be laid at His feet. If we don’t understand our own hearts, we can trust that our Creator does! We can say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
We have a God who knows us and who loves us just the same. We can smile and be at peace. His thoughts for us are many; His thoughts for us are good. We can say like the Psalmist did:
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
Our “darknesses” do not scare Jesus. Let us be honest before God. Let us allow Him to settle us into a place of wonder and of delight where His love for us is all that matters—even when our feelings are difficult. We don’t have to pretend. He knows us completely.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.