I’ve had those moments. Someone went after me. Accused me. Challenged my character. Assumptions made.
But I’ve been that person too. I’ve gone after someone. Accused them. Challenged their character. Acted in fear and frustration. Assumptions made.
O God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, for wicked and deceitful men have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues. With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. But you, O Sovereign Lord, deal well with me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me. Help me, O Lord my God; save me in accordance with your love. Psalm 109:1-3, 21, 26 (NIV)
My God, don’t turn a deaf ear to my hallelujah prayer. Liars are pouring out invective on me; Their lying tongues are like a pack of dogs out to get me, barking their hate, nipping my heels – and for no reason! Oh, God, my Lord, step in; work a miracle for me – you can do it! Get me out of here – your love is so great! Help me, oh help me, God, my God, save me through your wonderful love; Psalm 109:1-3, 21, 26 (MSG)
I’m clearly not alone. This song of David could not have been the most pleasant one to sing. It is filled with frustration. It is mean. It doesn’t feel right. How can someone who is described as having a heart after God talk like this? How can he pray like this?
There are definitely moments in my life where I have been frustrated. Frustrated with myself. Frustrated with others. Even, frustrated with God. I want my “how comes” answered and I would like them answered now, thank you very much. How come this is happening to me? How come it doesn’t seem to be ending? How come? What did I do? After all, doesn’t God see and hear and act. He knows my character, how come the situation isn’t changing, now!?
In those moments of frustration, I beg my soul and my words to be careful. It is easy to fly off the handle and let rip. But those words are caustic and accusatory and are remembered longer than I would like them to be. I may feel vindicated in the moment, but there are regrets and relationships to rebuild with half-burned bridges. That’s hard and painful, requiring forgiveness. A fast explosion requiring a long repair.
If I guard my tongue, if I remember that God guards my reputation, my words may do less damage. My personal hurt may not be any different. But, when I respond with calmness in the face of frustration, I have a chance of getting to the real issue underneath everything else. There’s always something underneath the mess that drives the choices, the tone of voice, the words. It’s the thing I know has to be dealt with. It does not usually show up easily, but it is worth the work and the long haul to maintain the relationship and build a bridge of love and trust.
I would love to have mastered this skill. To be calm and prayerful in the midst of frustration and hurt. I am a work in progress. But there is one prayer I am saying constantly, “Help me, oh help me, God” (Psalm 109:26a MSG) because without His help I will never succeed. Without His help, my words will do damage beyond my understanding. Without His help, I will never demonstrate the care and compassion that are required in the most difficult situations. Without His help, I cannot act in love and mercy. Without His help, I will never become the person He has called me to be. Without Him, I can do nothing.
God, I do not know what frustration with cross my path this day. There are no surprises with You. Still my tongue. May I listen with patience and understanding. Guard my tongue. May my words be Your words spoken with love and grace. Give me wisdom to listen for what is behind all that I hear. I desire to be a help and a blessing. Flood me with Your peace. I long to be the vessel of Yours ready to do the work You have placed before me. Amen.