Pour Out Your Heart

I wrote this devotional piece years ago for a magazine submission that ended up being rejected. No worries, I get to publish it here with some updates! I had originally titled this "In The Cave", but I'm changing it to: Pour Out Your Heart, based on Psalm 62:8 "Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah."

I hope you find it encouraging or find it inspiring to share with someone: 

When we're feeling down or just plain sad we're most likely told by our Christian brothers and sisters to be thankful or to keep a gratitude list for help, but ungratefulness is not always the problem. I can be sad and disappointed and yet still very grateful. The heart may just need to grieve; to grieve any losses and to be comforted by the Lord.

When you're feeling this way, where do you share your complaints? Are you too afraid to share them with the Lord? Do you let it fester inside?

In scripture we see David hide from King Saul in caves. We get to see his pain, his fear, and his pleas to the Lord. You can read more of David's story starting in 1 Samuel, but in Psalms 34, 57, and 142, we get to see what was going on inside of David's heart and mind during this hard time.

I find so much encouragement in Psalm 34. David praises God for delivering him from trouble and for keeping him safe. But he also shares some wisdom on the importance of our character during challenging times: 

"Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it." Psalm 34:11-14 (ESV).

It says in 1 Samuel 22:1-2 that David was commander over many who went to be with him in hiding: "...everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men." 1 Samuel 22:2 (ESV). Wow. So many people who were struggling and sought out counsel, safety, and good company, joined him in hiding. I believe it is this group of people who received David's encouragement on good character.

In Psalm 57 we can see how, while in the cave fearful and worried, David remained steadfast in honoring and worshiping the Lord. He was afflicted with pain, his soul was upset, but he continued to praise and trust the Lord:

"Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destructions pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on man. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!" Psalm 57:1-3 (ESV).

"My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!" Psalm 57:7 (ESV).

"For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!" Psalm 57:10-11 (ESV).

Worship honors the Lord and it makes us stronger by building up our faith. It reminds us who our God is. It can remind us that we are not alone and that God is with us and in control. 

Then in Psalm 142, we see a prayer, an honest prayer of his plead and complaints to the Lord:

"With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him. When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!" Psalm 142:1-3 (ESV).

This prayer reminds me of Isaiah 61 where we see that God has some good news for the brokenhearted. The good news is Jesus. Jesus came to "bind up the brokenhearted," to drop oil of gladness over us instead of mourning, and to give a "garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that we will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified."

In these psalms I see David's faint spirit, but I also see this garment of praise coming upon him. His praise and trust in the Lord is part of his growth, like an oak tree. Imagine a tall, strong oak tree, planted by the Lord. The Arbor Day Foundation's website says oaks are generally large trees and when planting them we must be sure they will have room to grow, both up and out. The area it is planted in must have enough space for an 80-foot tall tree that is also 80 feet wide. It takes time for an oak tree to grow into its proper size and shape; given the right space you will see it grow. 

The Lord plants us expecting us to grow. To grow both up and out. He plants us into places in life where we're meant to be in His likeness, showing mercy, grace, and love; also to expand. To expand with our gifts, service, love, and hospitality.

Wherever you are now, you are not a wasted space. God has planted you here for such a time as this. Whether you feel like you're hiding in a cave or fearless in front of a crowd, God is with you. You can remain steadfast in trusting Him and worshiping Him, as He will remain steadfast in His faithfulness towards you.

If you don't have the words to share your complaints to God, pray David's prayer: "With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him. When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!" Psalm 142:1-3 (ESV).


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