"The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand."
Both of my kids are small: a 4 year old and an almost 2 year old. We still frequently hold hands as we go for walks or navigate parking lots. As happens (especially with our 2 year old), the kids will misstep and begin to fall. But if we are holding hands, I get to do that cool parent thing where I squeeze their hand tighter and lift them up away from the ground as they fall, so they never actually make contact with the ground. Then I slowly lower them back on to their feet. I prevent the fall.
When reading Psalm 37, verses 23-24 say that if we delight in the Lord, we will have firm steps and be upheld by God's hand. What does it mean to delight in Him? If we go all the way back to verse 4, it says to "take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Surely this doesn't mean that God will grant my wishes as long as I like Him, does it? As much as I'd like that to be true (and perhaps many people assume that's what Christians believe), I can't just wish for what I want with the right prayer.
Instead, I think it means that if we truly delight in the Lord, our desires will align with His will.
This is a hard concept to wrestle with when you've encountered pain and suffering. My life has not been unkind, but this past year I watched as my mom's body slowly succumbed to cancer. I watched her earthly body finally give out a few weeks ago. It was not something I wanted. I wish that she were still alive. I wish that she could spend time with me and play with my kids.
What is God's will? It is bigger than keeping us safe and perpetually happy. We want that for our own children, but we also want them to grow and love on their own, and that means allowing them to encounter hardships. As parents, we recognize that those experiences let our kids grow and hope that someday they will be capable adults who can handle bigger hardships. I think God's will is along those same lines. I think God's will is that His children (all of us) will know His love and truly love Him back, even when things around us aren't perfect.
Despite my unmet desires in regards to my mom, I still have faith, because I trust His will.
I trust His love for us as His children. I have trust that there will be heartache, but genuine love will outshine those shadowy areas along the road. I have faith that when Mom's spirit left this earth, she ran into Jesus' arms and is with Him now. I have faith that someday I will join her and many other saints that I love and miss. This faith gives me comfort.
In my journey there has been much lament. But my footing is firm. I cannot explain how I have not fallen, other than the power of prayer and support from the community that surrounds me. I am not sure that I would have been as strong in the role I played in my family's story this past year had it not been for the many prayers that I know where whispered on my behalf and the behalf of my family. Even when I did not realize it, my hand was held firm, preventing me from falling and letting me continue forward.
Do you know someone that you can pray for that might need that steadying strength? What does it mean to you, to delight in the Lord? How does that relate to having faith?
- Alison Major
God holds us up, in times of blessing and in times of trouble. Take a moment to remember someone who could use God's hand to hold them up. Spend some time in prayer for that person.
God of hope, I believe that you are with me in times of joy and in times of sorrow. Show me what it means to delight in you, even when I don’t feel happy. Give me the faith I need to follow your will. Amen.
In your journal or a blank sheet of paper, draw or write your thoughts.