As I take another day to pray with the Church, my calendar brought me to Psalm 11 — another Hebrew prayer poem full of encouragement.
For me, I needed to clarify one word to help make this prayer my own.
You may want to read Psalm 11 before you continue this article and start meditating on this prayer for yourself. I hope by praying this Psalm you find encouragement and maybe even some new healthy habits to establish in your own life.
The heart of this prayer (Psalm 11:4 NIV) reveals God still resides on His throne. Even when I undergo stress, Psalm 11 calms me, letting me know God has not gone anywhere.
Verse four of the prayer reminds me of God’s unsurprised, unworried, and confident authority. The Psalm metaphorically describes an unseen assassin’s attacks and what feels like the floor dropping out from underneath us, yet God makes Himself available for both comfort and relief.
“The Lord is in His holy Temple; the Lord is on His heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; His eyes examine them” (Ps 11:4). I can either run to the “mountains” and hide (Ps 11:1) or I can turn to God for my refuge.
So why would I run to the mountains or turn to an unsatisfying, incomplete comfort when God makes Himself available to me?
Unfortunately, I do not always run to God with my anxiety or grief. Sometimes when I feel stress, I gravitate either toward “freaking out” or trying to numb the pain. Neither worry nor self-medication gives me peace for my soul.
This prayer tells me to take the “Jesus Way” and trust God because He is still on His throne — still in control during my darkest moments of depression, anxiety, or attack.
Psalm 11 also gives us the reason we turn to God instead of spending all our energy avoiding our pain or fleeing from our enemies.
Those figurative (or real) arrows that point at our hearts (Ps 11:2) bring real pain. And the crumbling foundations of our cultural institutions bring real fear.
But God brings real justice. His perfect timing makes all things right. God does not allow the wicked to go unpunished nor the good to go unrewarded.
God’s correct response to injustice and His perfect actions toward every relationship comfort me.
That’s what the word righteous means in verse seven. “For the Lord is righteous…” (Ps 11:7). A simple way to define the word righteous is “do right by someone based on your relationship.”
All our relationships require different actions to make things right. For example, treating coworkers right, looks different than treating our children right. And treating my spouse right looks different than how I treat the cashier at the grocery store.
The Jesus Way imitates God’s righteousness. God always takes the appropriate, right action in every single relationship. He helps us do the same when we turn to Him for our strength and refuge.
This explains why Jesus teaches us to pray for our enemies and bless those who attack us instead of running away and hiding.
The Jesus Way uses Psalm 11 as a prayer and a lifestyle. Instead of fleeing from his betrayal and from his death on the cross, Jesus kept turning back to God for strength, refuge, and justice. God gives His enemies exactly as they deserve. Psalm 11:5-6 so poetically puts it: “…the wicked, those who love violence, [God] hates with a passion. On the wicked He will rain fiery coals….”
God treats the righteous as they deserve, too. Psalm 11:7 says, “…the upright will see His face.”
Because Jesus kept turning back to God for refuge, God rewarded him: God raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus was given dominion, glory, and kingship (Daniel 7:13-14).
God exalted Jesus’s name above all other names (Philippians 2:9). God gave Jesus strength to endure through suffering and then rewarded him for remaining faithful to the prayer in Psalm 11.
Spend a week praying this prayer and let me know what comfort God begins to place in your own heart.
Send me an email or message me on Facebook describing how the Jesus Way found in Psalm 11 changes your anxiety. Let me know what practical ways you use to turn to God instead of fleeing to the mountains.
I am looking forward to hearing from you at email@example.com .
Dale McCamish is Senior Minister at the Wilmington Church of Christ.
This weekly column is provided to the News Journal on a monthly rotation basis by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association.