Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for [God] will speak peace to the people, to the faithful, to those who turn to [God] in their hearts. Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. – Psalm 85:8 & 10 (NRSV)
Promises like these from the psalms are grand and wonderful. I don’t deserve promises like these; they’re as far above me as the heavens.
But in my life, I’ve learned something counterintuitive: The more struggles I’ve experienced, the more hardship I’ve endured, the more mistakes I’ve made, the more I’ve come to believe the lofty promises of the psalms.
There have been seasons in my life when I felt all I deserved from God was scorn. And in those times, promises I didn’t deserve were the only kinds of promises I could believe in.
If you are in a season of struggle or grief or trouble, spend time reading the Book of Psalms. Start at the beginning and read a few every day. Read until something pulls you up short—because the heartbreak is just the same as yours or because you yearn for such lofty hope to be your own. Pray those words, let them be food and drink in the wilderness. Because that is what the psalms are.
The psalms are strength for those whose strength has failed them, a future for those whose past has destroyed them, love for those who love has passed by, comfort for those whose bodies betray them, justice for those the world scorns. The psalms are prayers for you, prayers that are ever and forever burning on the altar of heaven.
O God, we turn to you in our hearts. We who would be faithful seek your peace. Let us hear what you will speak.
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.