I love how similar these three verses are. It's like the psalmist is telling himself the same thing over and over again to convince himself of the truth. To me, it's like an affirmation to combat the negative thoughts and feelings that are troubling him. He literally speaks to his soul saying, "Don't be upset. Don't let your feelings get the best of you. Have confidence in God. Let's turn that pity into praise because God is my help, my health, my God, and the reason I can smile."
Fear and anxiety lead to pity parties, but confidence leads to praise. I know this from experience. A couple of weeks ago, I had a nightmare. I dreamed I was at a meeting where I was the speaker. Though I had a general idea of the topic I wanted to speak on, I hadn't prepared much because I was clinging to the verse that says not to think too much about what to say but to allow the Spirit to give you the words. But when I got up in front of the crowd, my mind went completely blank. Not only could I not think of anything to say about my topic, I couldn't even remember what the topic was. I stuttered and stumbled, my face turning red with embarrassment as people in the crowd began to point and laugh. I ran out of the room humiliated, and then, thankfully, I woke up, realized I had been dreaming, and shook it off as nothing more than a nightmare.
Fast forward to last week. I was scheduled to speak at a ladies' banquet on Saturday evening. Since the banquet was a fundraiser for my upcoming trip to the UK, I decided I would speak about the same topic I was planning to speak on during the retreat in May. It would be like a commercial for the upcoming trip. Good plan, right? Not only did I have a topic, but I wouldn't have to come up and study for with another lesson.
However, on Sunday, I realized that the plan was "my plan," and at no point had I asked the Lord what He wanted me to speak about. My heart convicted, I apologized to the Lord, forsook my idea and asked Him to guide me to the topic He wanted me to share Saturday night. Day after day, I prayed, listened, studied, begged and pleaded, but no answer came. As the end of the week drew near, I couldn't shake the recollections of my nightmare and the feeling that it might be coming true. The weight of indecision and uncertainty weighed on me, but I told myself to be confident. God would come through. I had to believe that. But let me tell you, it wasn't easy!
Finally, on Thursday afternoon, I received an answer, and God put together a beautiful lesson for me to share. With that decision and confirmation came peace I cannot explain. And the praise poured out of my mouth. God had come through again. God had delivered right on time. God had worked in and through me. God had honored my trust in Him and gave me even more reason to be confident in His care.
But, may I share a secret with you? Like the psalmist, my praise began even before the answer came. Each day when I sought God's will and asked Him to give me the words to share, I ended my time with Him with praise. I praised Him for hearing my prayer. I praised Him for the answer I knew would come. I praised Him for choosing to use me to spread hope and encouragement. I praised Him for being God. No, I didn't have an answer yet, but I had confidence in the One to whom I was praying. I didn't have an answer, but I had confidence that one was on its way.
Confidence isn't about knowing what the future holds. It's about trusting in the One who holds the future. And when we have that confidence, we can't help but praise God. Sometimes the best way out of a pity party is to offer praise and thanksgiving to God. No, we may not feel like it, but that's the whole point. Confidence isn't built on feelings. It's built on trust, and that trust is grounded in facts. Those facts are the truths found in God's Word, and no matter what our feelings may say, we can hold fast to the Scripture and praise God for His Word which is alive and never-changing. It is forever settled in Heaven, and nothing (not even our circumstances) can alter its truths. And that, my friend, is a reason to hope, to have confidence. That is a reason to praise!