We are social beings, God created us to be in community with Him and with others. So when a crisis hits and grief wears us out, our natural response is to seek the companionship of others. The times we get blind-sided, as soon as we recognize that resolution may not come quickly, the next step we typically take is to look for someone to go through it with us. We tell ourselves “I just need someone to talk to.”
But that’s hard to find sometimes, isn’t it? There have been times when I didn’t feel like I had someone to talk to, or that my situation was different enough that no one I knew could relate all that much. In addition to the struggle of trying to process the mess of my situation, I also felt lost and stuck because it seemed like I had to go through it alone.
Perhaps the author of Psalm 119 felt the same way, but instead of looking for another human being to talk with, he seeks out God. Look for what happens when he approaches God with his grief and sorrow:
My life is down in the dust; give me life through Your word.
I told You about my life, and You listened to Me; teach me Your statutes.
Help me understand the meaning of Your precepts so that I can meditate on Your wonders.
I am weary from grief; strengthen me through Your word.
Keep me from the way of deceit, and graciously give me Your instruction.
I have chosen the way of truth; I have set Your ordinances before me.
I cling to Your decrees; Lord, do not put me to shame.
I pursue the way of Your commands, for You broaden my understanding.
There is so much comfort in the phrase I told You about my life, and You listened to Me. From this, we know that we can bring any grief-filled situation to God, and He will hear us out. There’s no indication in the text that what the psalmist said about his life was only the good, or only the bad, or only the things that he thought God would want to hear. There are no limitations on what he feels he can or cannot say about his life, and God doesn’t run away from him because he’s feeling worn out, tired, or stressed from grief. He can approach God with everything - I told You…and You listened.
The Hebrew word for You listened contains two ideas – of someone being heard and of that person being answered back. While most translations focus on God answering, it is also reassuring to know that God is actively listening.
This section of Psalm 119 ends with the author stating what he’s trusting God for as he navigates his grief. He is looking to God to broaden my understanding, and the literal translation of the phrase is to enlarge my heart.
I’ve been told that life’s events can make you bitter or better…that in our difficulties we can shrink back, or we can expand and grow. But the psalmist knows, as we intuitively recognize, that real growth comes from our relationship with the God who actively listens to us.