What do you do when it hurts too much to hope? When you feel tired, broken, and empty?
The psalmist in Psalm 42 has an answer for a soul that is bent over by the weight of the world…praise.
How do you give praise when you’re ready to declare emotional, physical, and spiritual bankruptcy? As a worship leader who is at this very moment battling with fatigue in all aspects of life I’m wondering how do I lead others to a place I’m struggling to reach?
Last year I wrote my first Christmas song and the opening line is, “Hope was born in a manger”. Hope is not something we can manufacture on our own. Hope was birthed through God’s choice to sacrifice His Son to redeem a broken world. Our true hope is found in the arms of the God of Hope.
When you’re too tired to pray, too broken to believe it will get better, and too empty to hold on to hope, don’t give up on God, simply acknowledge where you are in this moment. In this moment I cannot pretend to have it all together. I am clinging to words of hope I’ve read in His word. I know that God is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). I acknowledge my brokenness. I know that God desires to give me rest from the burdens I have been carrying (Matthew 11:28). I acknowledge my need for rest. I know that God is already aware of how much I need Him. So like the psalmist I acknowledge my emptiness. (Psalm 42:1-3)
Many years ago I heard that if your body doesn’t get enough to drink it can send mixed signals to the brain. You might think you’re hungry when you’re actually thirsty. So it is in times of brokenness. When we are overwhelmed with life we think we need to shut out the world, including God. We have a desperate longing for hope but we look for it in things that don’t completely satisfy the true need. Meditating on the negative day after day and night after night…eating tears for food as the psalmist confessed in Psalm 42:3 is draining. We need a way to break out of the cycle of despair. If you’re hungry for Hope take a drink of Living Water. Call out to God, spend time in His word, push through what you think you need, and partake of what you really need.
As I climb out of the pit I’ve found myself in, I’m using these five tips to praise my way back to Him:
1. Listen to praise music
2. Make a list of God’s characteristics
3. Read scriptures that relate to hope
5. Make a gratitude list
I’m not advocating that you ignore your feelings. I work as a counselor and regularly encourage people to feel their feelings and work through their issues. I’m acknowledging that for myself, the way out of brokenness is to spend time in His presence, the way out of tiredness is to find rest in Him, and the way out of emptiness is to fill up on Him. He lives within the praises of His people. Praise Him for Who He is and thank Him for what He has done in the past and ask Him for restoration of the soul. I know that the God of Hope hears our prayers. And that knowledge is fanning the flame of hope in my heart right now!