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thank you for seeing me

By Amanda Farbstein
August 29, 2020

Passages of the day: Click HERE ​to read today’s passages.

Job 31:1-33:33
2 Corinthians 3:1-18
Psalm 43:1-5
Proverbs 22:8-9

A common refrain heard within particularly American Evangelical circles is that “it’s not about happiness. It’s about joy.” And joy is not contingent upon circumstances whereas happiness is. Happiness became such a bad word that years ago I nearly didn’t take medication for my clinical mental illness because I thought that would be for happiness. I shouldn’t need to change my circumstances in order to know the superior joy. The New Testament indeed supports that joy can be known through the Spirit in all circumstances. But do our circumstances matter at all when it comes to experiencing positive or negative emotions? Or are we to feel a consistent positivity untouched by the ups and downs of lives?

Psalm 43 suggests that our circumstances do influence our praise and lament. “Send me your light and your faithful care.” There is a common consensus that “light” refers to the experience of God’s favor. The psalmist prays that it is God’s renewed favor that will usher him back into worship in God’s sanctuary. He is praying for a change in circumstances.

Psalm 43 challenges a triumphant spiritualizing of suffering. We are to lament in our pain and praise in our deliverance. Yes, we mourn as those with hope and, yes, we do rejoice at all times. But God sees our flesh and blood situations and He cares about them. Knowing that our circumstances matter to God influences our motivation and actions to help lift others out of their suffering. It also helps us engage more fully with our own lives. We get to react to what is truly happening. God cares about my mom’s chronic illness, about the injustice in Hong Kong, and about sex trafficking. These are circumstances worthy of lament and calls to action. And upon occasions of healing, justice, and liberation, we respond in joy. Knowing that God cares about our lives and not just our souls is alone cause for praise.

To memorize:

Why, my soul, are you downcast?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God, for I will yet again praise him, my Savior and my God.

— Psalm 43:5

Prayer to start with: Dear Lord, thank You that You see our suffering and that You lament over it. Thank You that You redeem it and use it to sanctify us- building perseverance, character, and hope. And thank You that You do long to give us good gifts. Teach us how to suffer and celebrate well, both individually and collectively.