It’s been a rough
I’ve been thinking back to the time when I first heard the once-trendy Piperism “God is most glorified in us when we’re most satisfied in Him.”
I remember that time as sort of magical, when each week, I would sit on a couch stacked on a table the boys had built because they wanted to have stadium seating in their living room. They were the type of boys who let maggots grow in a half-eaten Dairy Queen Blizzard left on a dresser for God knows how long… but they were also the type who invited us over each week to talk about God.
Prior to that Bible study, I honestly didn’t like God very much. I obeyed Him, because that’s what you do… but I couldn’t fathom that He wanted more from me than an pouting drudgery.
That Bible study changed me forever. Revealed the tenderness, affection, mystery, and safety of faith. And yet, my heart is back to drudgery again.
I don’t know how I got here, nor do I know how I made it out of the drudgery hole last time. It seems to have required a direct intervention from God. Intervene, please? Now?
Life right now seems like a pendulum to me, swinging from drudgery to reckless abandon. Nothing in between. Nothing ordinary. Nothing like John Piper’s God-glorifying satisfaction.
One moment, I am defeasible fees/contingent remainders/shifting future interests/the rule against perpetuities (no wonder so many lawyers have substance abuse problems). The next moment, I’m a late-night run chased by zombies and listening to “We Owned the Night,” b/c I feel like I actually own the night.
Drudgery. Overjoy. Drudgery. Overjoy. Drudgery… the pendulum swings.
I was at a Christian Legal Society meeting a few weeks ago, and we were reading Psalm 42, which is very back and forth between “My tears have been my food day and night…” and “The Lord will command His lovingkindness…” and “Why have You forgotten me?”
It’s really a beautiful passage of spiritual pain and stunted praise.
While CLS was talking about it, I was having a lot of trouble seeing it as uplifting. Everyone except me seemed only to see warm fuzzies and positivities.
Then Matt pointed out the one hopeful thing that resonated with me.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why are you disquieted w/in me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.”
He pointed out the word “yet.”
“I shall yet praise Him.”
It’s a future tense thing. In the future I shall praise Him.
I found that so incredibly comforting.
Christians so often put on an obnoxious fake praise. Because it feels like something we’re supposed to do. After all, “God is most glorified in us when we’re most satisfied in Him.” And we’re supposed to glorify God, right? Therefore, I must be satisfied. I must show everyone how satisfied I am… right?
Also, I always feel like I’m about to get a lecture when I don’t at least pretend to be satisfied… when I have the nerve to ask Him why…
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the world… Have you commanded the morning… Have you walked the recesses of the deep…?”
Whole chapters about where I was when God put leviathan in the ocean and set the stars in the sky… Well, God. You obviously are God, and I am not. I know that.
Matt went on to say that the word “yet” hints at those times when we don’t feel like we’re even Christians… we can trust that it won’t always be so. We shall yet praise Him. Even if it isn’t ours in this moment, we will reclaim satisfaction.
I can’t make my heart be satisfied. Can’t plant joy there and cause it to grow. Sometimes I can wrangle my emotions into a corner and make them do what I want them to do, but most of the time, if the drudgery/overjoy pendulum in my heart is to be reinvented, God has to intervene on my behalf. I can’t do it on my own.
While I’m stuck here, though, torn between drudgery and overjoy, sometimes not even feeling like I’m a Christian, isn’t Psalm 42 comforting? Isn’t the word “yet” the most comforting word in the English language? Because after I’m finished complaining about my tears and asking God why He has forgotten me, I shall yet praise Him.