“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)
Trials in life like the COVID pandemic can catch us unawares. There can be a temptation to become stuck like a deer in the headlights, thinking about the unfairness of it all. Instead, let us begin to make sense of these trials by looking through the filter of what we know about God. We are partnered with God and there is always something He can teach us (1 Peter 4:12-13).
Take some time to process the first half of this year and write things down. Don’t move on from trials too quickly when there’s an opportunity to lean into wisdom, embrace new things and grow.
- What do you know about God and His goodness?
- Find some Bible verses about Him to meditate on: when the Bible talks of meditation it isn’t asking us to empty our minds but to fill it with God things.
- Share with others who might be still going through some tough times and encourage them.
When Psalm 139 talks about God knowing us, it is the deep knowledge of our Creator, not the shallow general knowledge of a work colleague. What the Psalmist is really saying is, “God, help me to know me”. Self-awareness means that we can notice things that we do, habits that we need to change and the opportunities we have to grow. Being self-aware is worth pursuing. While it might be scary to closely examine ourselves, it is better to do it with someone who knows you deeply and loves you deeply.
The Psalmist continues, “test me”. We have undergone a big testing and some of the foundations of how we were living, thinking and acting have started to crack. In John 15 we see Jesus trying to prepare His disciples for a big shock which would ‘shake their foundations’. He reassures them (and us) that these tests are a normal part of life. He describes it as God pruning our lives: getting rid of what we don’t need so that we can be more fruitful (John 15:1-2). God wants us to keep growing and be blessed.
The Psalmist asks God to lead him on a blessed path not a path towards heartbreak and pain. No one wants the path of heartbreak and pain but since God is the One Who knows the way, we need to follow Him and allow ourselves to be led to avoid it. We need to decide to be open to His leading. We also need to be determined to hang onto the commitments that we have made rather than walking away. Don’t hide from issues that may have surfaced in your relationships during this time. Talk about them with people you trust so that they don’t fester and grow.
Pause and consider:
- What has this season revealed about me? What am I noticing needs to change?
- What has this season made me discover about my relationship with Jesus?
- Has my faith survived this season? Did I lean into Jesus or reject His leading?
- What has this season made me discover about my relationships with others?
- What has this season made me discover about my limits? (energy, financial, stress, etc)
Don’t simply go back to the way things were before. Consider the example of King David after he had made some major mistakes. When the prophet Samuel asked him to confront these issues, David had not hardened his heart to God. He writes in Psalm 51:10 that he wants God to create something new in him: a clean heart.
- Be open to change
- Leave the broken ways behind
- Decide to grow
Get a vision of what you would like your life to look like in the future, make a plan and take steps to embrace healthy habits. Also, be kind to yourself when you take a step backwards - it happens to everybody. Let God realign your heart with His as we come out of the COVID lockdown.
Pray Psalm 139 to refresh our commitment to God:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;”
Lord, we are opening our hearts here today to You; We are ready to listen; There are areas that we have closed off to You but today, we choose to listen; Let us know what You know about us;
"Test me and know my anxious thoughts."
Lord, the pursuits that I’ve put my faith into that were not glorifying you, that were not helping me move forward, You have tested them and found them wanting so today we refresh our commitment to You Lord, that we will put our faith and our trust in what we know You are building.
"Point out anything in me that offends you,"
Father if we have anything in our lives that has turned us away from You, today we come back;
and thank you that You will lead me along the path of everlasting life if I follow Jesus.”
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
- What are some of the ways you have been living and thinking that have been shaken this year?
- What would you like to prune from your life?
- How do you plan to leave unhelpful habits behind? Discuss some steps you could take to help you do this.
- How has God been good to you during the COVID lockdown that would encourage someone in your world to hear about?