When you read some psalms you’ll notice that interspersed among the kicking, screaming, and pleading is something biblical scholars call “a vow of praise.” We see a perfect example of this in Psalm 43, which begins with a desperate petition:
Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men (v. 1).
But then it ends like this:
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God (v. 5).
The contrast is so stark, you wonder if the same person is writing the first and the last verses. How can someone go from such desperate circumstances to a position of confidence in God’s goodness?
A vow. In just about every psalm of lament, you’ll find a statement that expresses, “No matter how dark my circumstances get, no matter how much rage I feel toward God or those around me, no matter how much everything I think and feel tells me to give up on God, I will not. I will not give up on God.” Have you ever made a vow like that?
Sister Basilea Schlink, the founder of a Protestant order of nuns in Germany, counsels Christians in the midst of mystery to make a modern day version of a vow of praise:
When you are in suffering say, “Yes, Father” and strength will flow into your heart.
This is a vow of praise. By making such a vow, we’re saying that no matter how alone, abandoned, and betrayed we feel, we will not turn back. By making a vow of praise, we’re not forgetting what has happened to us or letting God off the hook. A vow of praise is a declaration in defiance of despair. It is a proclamation to ourselves and those around us.
One of the only ways the saints of old were able to live through unspeakable valleys of desperation was to make vows of praise to their heavenly Father. I want to encourage you to do the same. Don’t know where to begin? How about:
Yes, Father, I still believe in your goodness, despite what I see with my eyes;
Yes, Father, I still believe you have a plan for my life, despite what I feel in my heart;
Yes, Father, I still believe my best days are ahead of me, despite what my enemies and friends and family and loved ones say to me;
Even if you ask me to live in mystery the rest of my life, I will wake up every day and say yes, Father, I still believe in you.
Check out Brian's book Second Guessing God: Hanging On When You Can't See His Plan
at http://www.amazon.com/gp/explorer/0784718415/2/ref=pd_lpo_ase/104-8586553-2939153?ie=UTF8 or your local bookstore now! (All proceeds donated to the church Brian serves)
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