Psalm 13:6 I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me. (NKJV)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
“I will sing to the Lord because He has treated me really well”…. sounds like something you would say when things are going well and victory has been the order of the day. Sounds like the perfect ending to a perfect day.
Actually, this is the final verse of Psalms 13, a psalm which is a strong cry from King David at a very low time in his life. Listen to some of the things he says to God:
- v.1 – How long are you going to allow me suffer and not do anything about it? Are you going to forget me forever? Are you going to keep ignoring me?
- v.2 – Aren’t you going to help? Is my own strength my only hope? Am I on my own? I am distressed and hurting, are you going to help?
- v.3 – Lord, please listen to me! Give me some hope, show me that you care! I feel like I’m going to die!
- v.4 – Don’t forsake me or people will make fun of me for serving You. When my enemies get the best of me, it makes them really happy.
Have you ever been that honest with God? Do you realize that God already knows what you feel way down in the secret place of your heart? God knows the truest and deepest and most hidden emotions of your soul regardless if you express them or not.
Is it wrong to express frustration, disappointment and even impatience to God? Apparently not; we have many examples of faithful people expressing these things to God in Scripture. King David is the only person described as a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13.22) and the Psalms are full of his cries to God. However, David’s laments are followed by his acknowledgement and declaration that God was His source of hope and strength.
Honest “complaining” to God should always be done
with respect and reverence followed by an
acknowledgement of God’s revealed character.
How we feel doesn’t change who God is. No matter what our circumstances, it doesn’t in any way alter the facts about God. He is faithful (1Thess 5.24), just (1Pet 1.17), righteous (Ps 119.37), merciful (Lam 3.22-23), our protector (Jude 1.24) and when all is said and done, evil will be punished and righteousness rewarded (Acts 17.31; Rom 2.6; Col 3.25).
God already knows your doubts, fears and anxieties. To be honest with God about them only shows that we trust Him and feel safe with Him. Failing to acknowledge that God WILL be faithful and just when all is said and done, is to complain without purpose or faith.
I have frequently touched on this issue (the difficulty of life) several times. There are two responses I have frequently received that sadden me greatly. The first is the idea that expressing your hurts and disappointments to God is a “negative confession” and is “a lie from Satan “. Following that idea, a large portion of the Bible would be a “negative confession” (Psalms, Ecclesiastes, the Minor Prophets, etc.). This idea is a product of our modern “positive prosperity” Gospel.
How destructive would it be for a loving mother or father to inform their children, “you can’t tell me when you feel bad, that’s a negative confession”. We are told by certain teachers today that if we ignore reality, and “confess” what we WISH was reality, that it will come to fruition. We are led to believe that OUR WORDS hold the power to changing our circumstances (rather than the true Biblical idea that our words, when reflecting God’s Word, change our motives and attitudes despite external circumstances and moves God compassionate hand on our behalf).
God is our heavenly Father. We are to be like “little children” (Luke 18.17) in our relationship with Him. We are free to have unquestioned and matter-of-fact trust in Him. We can feel safe to be real with God, not hide behind some mystical idea that if only we say the right words enough times, everything good will come true.
We are not to have faith in our words, nor faith in our faith.
We are to have faith in God.
God blesses us with the opportunity and freedom to share the reality of our heart with the One who loves us infinitely more than any earthly Father can love a child. Yes, we are to speak words of confession and faith (that reflect Biblical truth) but the speaking of these words is not some magical force that does your bidding and creates the reality (circumstances) you long for.
Speaking words of faith and “positive” Scripture allows us
to change our attitude, adjust our perspective, and have hope
that despite our circumstances – God is in control.
The second sad response I receive is just one of pure hopelessness and lack of faith. These come from people who want to pour out their heart to God but then have no trust that He hears or cares… primarily because He hasn’t removed the painful circumstance. A lack of faith in what God has clearly revealed about Himself leaves us on our own (emphasis mine):
- James 1:6-8 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (NKJV)
- Matthew 21:22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (NKJV)
- Hebrews 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in [the Promised Land] because of unbelief. (NKJV)
When we pour out the pain of our heart to God, we are to have faith and believe what He has revealed about His character (mercy, justice, righteousness, etc.). When we have faith, ask in faith according to God’s will and believe without doubt, all things are possible:
Mark 9:23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (NKJV)
This is not to imply that we have a blanket purchase order with God. Consider all of these Biblical conditions; prayer should be offered up:
- In the Holy Spirit. Eph 6:18; Jude 1:20.
- In faith. Mt 21:22; Jas 1:6.
- In full assurance of faith. Heb 10:22.
- In a forgiving spirit. Mt 6:12.
- With the whole heart. Ps 119:58,145.
- With preparation of heart. Job 11:13.
- With a true heart. Heb 10:22.
- With the spirit and understanding. Joh 4:22-24; 1Co 14:15.
- With confidence in God. Ps 56:9; 86:7; 1Jo 5:14.
- With submission to God. Lu 22:42.
- With unfeigned lips. Ps 17:1.
- With deliberation. Ec 5:2.
- With holiness. 1Ti 2:8.
- With humility. 2Ch 7:14; 33:12.
- With truth. Ps 145:18; Joh 4:24.
- With desire to be heard. Ne 1:6; Ps 17:1; 55:1,2; 61:1.
- With desire to be answered. Ps 27:7; 102:2; 108:6; 143:1.
- With boldness. Heb 4:16.
- With earnestness. 1Th 3:10; Jas 5:17.
- With importunity. Ge 32:26; Lu 11:8,9; 18:1-7.
- Night and day. 1Ti 5:5.
- Without ceasing. 1Th 5:17.
Torrey, R. (1995, c1897). The new topical text book : A scriptural text book for the use of ministers, teachers, and all Christian workers. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos research Systems, Inc.
No matter how sincere our faith, God only responds and acts according to His will and pleasure (Phil 2.13), and according to what will bring glory to Him. We must not only ask in faith, without doubting, but we must also ask according to God’s revealed will; we must ask in harmony with His character because God cannot go against His own nature; we must not have hidden or ignored sin in our life; we must not be harboring unforgiveness; we must be honoring our spouse; we must have pure motives (James 4.3).
To summarize: It is not a “negative confession” to be honest with God about what is hurting you. Our faith is not the sole criteria for answered prayer. It is useless to be honest with God about what is hurting you if you have no faith in God and don’t acknowledge His character.
Pour out your heart to the God and Father who loves you. He already knows anyway. Follow it with declaration of FACT about who God is, that He is trustworthy; and that no matter how hard life is, He is your hope and strength. Then ask God for help. Ask in faith, not doubting, believing all things are possible. Ask from a clean heart and pure motives. Ask according to God’s will as you can best determine.
Lord, There are multitudes of Your children today that feel run down, beaten up and forgotten. Help us to realize that this is because of our sin-cursed world, not You. We declare our hope and trust in You. We rejoice in our salvation, we sing of Your mercies and praise You for taking care of us. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Do you see God as someone you can be honest with? Do you see the admission of difficult circumstance, disappointments or frustration as a “negative confession”? What do you have faith in? Something about you, or totally in God? Do you complain to God, without acknowledging what the Bible declares to be true about Him? Do you pray to God keeping in mind the conditions that God has revealed concerning answered prayer?
Application: We humans are so prone to extremes and error. We become hopeless and have no faith. Or we try to manipulate our own circumstances with “spiritual formulas” and human effort. It is reality that we suffer at times in our life. That is not a “negative confession”, it’s reality. God is our Father. We can be honest with Him about how we hurt… followed by the proper respect, reverence and acknowledgement of who God is. This helps us to pray for God to act on our behalf, according to His will and pleasure. We trust in God as our hope and salvation no matter what life throws at us.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?