Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hope for Broken Spirits

Tonight as we studied Psalm 147, I noticed several very encouraging passages.
Recently I have had occasion to really ponder on what it means to present to God a broken and contrite heart as in Psalm 51:17:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

Through different instances in my life I have known more what it is and what it looks like to be utterly broken. I've seen in the lives of people very dear to me, what it is to come to that place where you feel so completely stripped of every sense of joy, peace, or delight. Enough to feel physically taxed to the point of exhaustion. It's painful to watch someone experiencing this time; and yet the beauty of it is:
that this, along with a contrite heart, is what God considers as a sacrifice.
Our sovereign, gracious, righteous God considers this place of pain and grief a sacrifice.
So I understand the "broken heart" bit, however it was the term "contrite" that I was unsure of the meaning. And after reading up on it, knowing the meaning changed my first understanding of this text. Here is a part of Mr. Webster's 1828 definition of the word contrite:

"Penitance; deep sorrow for sin; grief of heart for having offended an infinitely holy and benevolent God. The word is usually understood to mean a genuine penitance, accompanied with a deep sense of ingratitude in the sinner, and sincere resolution to live in obedience to the divine law. "
~John Newton

"Hence, broken hearted for sin; deeply affected with grief and sorrow for having offended God;
humble, penitant; as a contrite spirit."
~Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary
So I had this in mind when I read the following in Psalm 147:

Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground...
the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.

So you see,God brings us to the painful, humbling place but because He is merciful and loving,
He doesn't leave us there.
"He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds."!
This is a source of great comfort to me when I see my loved ones at this place; because I hold fast to the latter part of the chapter:

"...the Lord takes pleasure in
those who fear him,
in those who
hope in his steadfast love."

It's during the difficult times when this is all I can cling to, anything else would be leaning on my own understanding and we all know how that turns out.
When you love someone so deeply, their joys become yours; their interests become apart of yours; when they are in pain, you are grieved. It's just what comes with that choice.

Something that I have to work on is not acting from the heightened pain emotion; mostly I find it best to let the Lord be the only person to whom I cry out, and then not speaking at all is best.
What is hope you ask? Well, according to Mr. Webster the exact definition of hope is:
"Hope: 1. A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of obtaining it.
Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish or desire may produce or be accompanied by pain and anxiety.
2. Confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well founded expectation of good; as a hope founded on God's gracious promises; a scriptural sense.

'A well founded scriptural hope, is in our religion, the source of ineffable happiness.'


Nicole said...

Thank you Elena. That is exactly what I needed to be reminded of. Thank you for always encouraging me...

The Pedersen Family said...

Beautiful, Elena!

This understanding will serve you well all of your life.



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