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Finding Purpose in the Darkness

August 26, 2019

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

It doesn’t feel like a very Christian thing to say. To admit we still have moments when we feel a bit suspicious of God while we’re clinging to the promises of God.

But can I be completely honest with you? I have wrestled with these feelings.

And I don’t think I’m the only one.

So many of us are standing in our churches on Sunday morning with our hands raised high as we proclaim our God is a “good, good Father,” but then we find ourselves lying in our beds on Sunday night with tear-stained pillows facing realities that don’t feel very good at all.

It’s hard not to feel suspicious of God when our circumstances don’t seem to line up with His promises. And it’s difficult not to doubt the light of His truth when everything around us looks dark.

Which brings us to Psalm 57 — a psalm penned by David in the midst of a season where his circumstances and God’s promises appear to be in complete and total opposition.

At this point, David has already been anointed as the future king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13) and has faithfully served King Saul. Sadly, though, Saul “rewards” David for his service and obedience with persecution and death threats. David is left to run for his life and then hide out in a cave.

Scripture also reveals David wasn’t hiding alone. This anointed but not-yet-appointed king was leading a pretty discouraging group of men. First Samuel 22:1-2 describes these 400 men as in distress, in debt and discontented. Not exactly the perspective-shifting people you hope to have with you during one of the darkest seasons of your life.

I wouldn’t judge David for one second if he had cried out to God in total frustration saying, “I don’t understand any of this. I’m leading a bunch of crazy people. We are hiding in a cave. And I’m feeling utterly defeated and completely hopeless!”

But the words he wrote in Psalm 57 are neither exclusively a Psalm of Lament nor a Psalm of Thanksgiving. David doesn’t deny the darkness of his situation (Psalm 57:1, 4, 6). But he also refuses to allow his soul to get stuck in a place of despair. Instead, David chooses to declare praises about the true nature and character of God. He reminds his soul of who God is — a God who fulfills His purposes (Psalm 57:2), a God who saves (Psalm 57:3), a God known for His faithfulness and steadfast love (Psalm 57:2, 10).

Even though David’s soul is “bowed down” by his circumstances (Psalm 57:6), he allows what he knows to be true about God to steady him. This enables David to declare in Psalm 57:7 — “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!”

I love knowing the story behind this psalm. In a cave that surely felt like a death sentence to all he hoped and dreamed, David lifted his eyes to God. And when his eyes were lifted, his heart was able to be shifted. Yes, David had already been anointed to eventually become king. But it was in the womb of the earth where God met him and birthed in him a heart ready to lead.

Darkness was the perfect training ground for David’s destiny. And those difficult places we so desperately want to be done with can become good training ground for us as well. But we have some choices to make. Will we see this dark time as a womb or a tomb? Is it a birth of something new or the death of what we thought should be? Will we fix our eyes on the truth of God’s goodness, or will we give in to hopelessness and despair?

Oh, friends. I know none of this is easy. But let’s choose to believe there is purpose in every season — even the ones that don’t seem to make any sense. Let’s ask God to birth something new inside of us — allowing Him to do a work in us that will better prepare us to walk out His promises. And instead of being suspicious of Him, let’s lift up our praises to Him.

Praise may not shift our circumstances, but it will definitely begin to change our hearts.

Father God, thank You so much for reminding me that I am never forsaken or forgotten. You see me in this dark place, and You promise there is purpose here. Even Your Son Jesus experienced the darkness of the tomb. But a tomb wasn’t the end of His story. And I’m choosing to believe it won’t be the end of mine either. Bring Your life and light where all hope seems lost, Lord. And do in me what only You can do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



Shift your suspicion that God is cruel or unfair to the biblical assurance that God is protecting and preparing you with my newest book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way. Order your copy HERE today.

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23 Comments
  1. Brenda

    Lysa, thank God for Him speaking through you. You are blessing in my time of need. My daughter went of to college, my mother went on to be with the Lord and now my dog went to heaven, too. All the people I supported and needed me are gone. Left is my husband and me. I feel so lost and without a true purpose anymore. I love the Lord and I know He will see me through the valley of the shadows of death. It is just so hard and I feel so lonely. Your words encourage me so much. Keep doing what you are doing, letting the Holy Spirit flow through you to us. I will be doing your bible study at church is about four weeks; It Not Supposed to be This way.
    InHisLove,
    Brenda Bryson

    Reply
  2. Don

    Lysa, I love to read your stuff, I really do. Your messages always seem to come at an appropriate time too; they always relate to something going on in my life. I never doubt or blame God for my hardships. I just can’t understand why He doesn’t step in sometimes. When a fighter’s getting pummeled relentlessly, and wont give up, his corner will ‘”throw in the towel.” That’s not a surrender, its an act of compassion. Why can’t He just say: “OK, did you learn your lesson? Now don’t eat from that damn tree again.”

    Don

    Reply
  3. Bonnie Graham

    What an uplifting message and sent by God!Thank you for!

    Reply
  4. Cind

    As, I read today’s devotion and reread Psalms 57, as well as fighting feelings of discouragement, loneliness and loss. I want to feel encouraged, I truly do, but it is just so very hard. Mine is a loss of a long standing friendship and co-worker in service (for reasons I just do not know, nor understand) and my heart seems to continue to break. When one feels like there is nothing else to break, a little more chips away. How to find my way out of this pit, is almost more than I can imagine? Yet, our Lord has pulled me up before and my heart and mind are trying very, very hard to believe and keep hope, He will pull me through again. The pain is just real and really hard! But, I know God is good; all the time God is good. Thank you for sharing your hope.

    Reply
  5. Audra Sanlyn

    My husband and I covered this in our youth group a few Sundays ago. No matter what stage of life we’re in, doubts will always arise. Thank you for this reminder that God can always bring beauty through pain.

    Reply
  6. Mary Kay

    Your message today really spoke to my heart. You have such an anointed gift of communication.
    Womb or tomb . . . ?
    That is a powerful question to ponder. Thank you for continuing to share your heart and faith with us.

    Reply
  7. Jeanne Shouse

    Dealing with my husband and his lung cancer. Has been in remission since December- Praise God! But so much other emotional and mental issues that reside in the continuous 3 months tests and physical and mental thinking that continues post chemo. He has had brain lesions found twice, thus radiation surgery, thus long term residues from that; change of thought processes, change in memory, more depression, see more walking in the “ mire”. This is not my man’s ways. Thank you for this blog! Just what I needed! Just ordered Things Should Not Be This Way! Can’t wait to grow deeper with my God in this time of
    season.
    Isaiah 42:3

    Reply
  8. Vickie Wade

    Lysa I really love your devotion and wisdom you give this devotion you gave today I need it Your book It’s Not Supposed to be this way I would love to get it it been a rough months with money problems I don’t how else I can get a copy of it you have been a blessing to me I love all your devotion that you post you sister in the Lord Vickie Wade

    Reply
  9. JS

    What if praise doesn’t shift your heart? What if the circumstances STILL stay the same & no matter how hard you pray and/or praise your heart is still broken & hurting & confused & utterly destroyed? Praise has not helped shift or change my heart. The more I listen to Gods word & read his promises, the more dismayed & hopeless I get b/c I see NONE of it in my life. I so badly want to be happy yet it always seems just out of reach.

    Reply
    • Beckie

      JS, this is the first time I’ve been on this site and I came across your comment. My heart breaks for you and your pain—your wounding must be deep. I understand how hard it is at times to pray and praise when it doesn’t look or feel like it’s “working”

      What if, instead of trying to praise yourself into feeling better, (not devaluing it or denying the truth of the practice), you simply sat where you are for a while? What if, you simply trust and believe that God is with you in that place, and see trust itself as a form of praise? What if, in that same trust, you allow yourself to know what you know…that God IS good, that his goodness is shown in his constant presence (whether we feel it or not), and that he WILL, someday, redeem our pain and our confusion and our brokenness? Our being happy isn’t God’s goal, a relationship with us is.

      Don’t give up because “it’s not working.” This may be a season. And even though it feels like eternity, it will pass. If it’s too much, please get help. Reach out to a mentor, counselor, or spiritual director; someone who can walk through it with you. And perhaps help you look at your circumstances with fresh eyes.

      I wish you peace.

      Reply
    • Karen

      JS, I am with you in your feelings. They are so close to mine. My husband of 34 1/2 years, who was my best friend and soulmate died suddenly in January of this year. Then, the cancer my sister was told was cured came back and is now, Stage 4. My mom is getting dementia. I live in SC and they are all in PA. I am trying to deal with the despair and deep grief of losing the love of my life and now I am the sole person responsible for my sister and my mum, traveling back and forth from SC to PA every couple of weeks and then back and forth from their homes. This is all too much in seven short months for one person to have to handle. I cannot process all this at one time. I agree, none of this sounds like God’s promises.

      Reply
  10. Sarah

    Your words always turn a light on inside my soul. Thank you for always sharing what God has placed on your heart.
    I wanted so badly to hear you speak tonight at People’s Church but I just couldn’t make it work. One day I hope to hug your neck and thank you in person for your precious words but to also hug you for surviving all the pain you have had to endure.

    Sep 19 will make 2 years since my world fell apart. I thought for sure I would have a restored marriage and God would get all the glory. I “just knew it would happen” but I realized you can’t make your spouse want to fight for you or your marriage. So here I am about to hit 2 years-in the middle of the divorce process, about to turn 40 and having to go every other day not seeing my precious boys. It’s so painful BUT by the grace of God I actually have new hope and joy for the future.

    I still can’t believe this is my new reality and it’s so not fair but I’m filled with such gratefulness for how far God has brought me. I once didn’t know if the intense pain I felt would ever go away or if I would ever feel true joy or peace again. I hoped daily I would just fall and hit my head and I could just go and be with Jesus just so I wouldn’t have to be in pain anymore. It really was a living hell.

    Now though I really do have peace and joy. My situation still looks very much awful but God has given me hope. He daily breathes life into me and I know he has good things ahead for me and my boys! So all this to say thank you! Thank you for giving me hope and writing words that explain how I feel and make me feel not so alone in this process!

    Reply
  11. Rhonda Whitt

    I’m only in Chapter 7 of your book It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way and I am in love with your writing. I’ve had favorite Christian authors before because it’s like they are spreading directly to me. But reading your book is like myself speaking. But it’s my future self speaking from “That Rock”. Singing that “New Song” God has promised to give me. God has truly planned this book to be in my hands at the right moment of my life. Thank you for staying on that tightrope and allowing God to speak through you! I pray you have already arrived on the other side. I’m cheering you on lady! With love, Rhonda.

    Reply
  12. Ann O'Malley

    A few years ago, the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness in a precious young loved one threw me into a spiritual tailspin. The main impact was feeling like the God that I’d trusted for years had wounded me deeply. The result was a wall between us. I threw it up quickly and I built it out of solid materials. I didn’t really want it there, but I couldn’t help feeling incapable of taking any steps to remove it.

    Then suddenly, after three long years, as I was struggling spiritually with yet another undeserved catastrophe in the same young person’s life, God broke through, flooding me with a supernatural, peaceful acceptance that far transcended all my understanding (Philippians 4:7).

    I was marveling over this unexplainable, unexpected blessing a few weeks later. Praying, thanking God, praising Him for knocking the wall down flat. Then the words entered my mind uninvited, unintended, “Help me to forgive You.”

    That’s how it felt. Like the pain ran so deep that of course He must have done something terrible to me, something wrong, something evil, something that I had a right to either forgive or continue to hold against Him. The god I wanted to worship wouldn’t do this to me.

    It didn’t feel like a very Christian thing to say. And yet, even in that very unChristian moment, He didn’t turn away in anger or disgust. He continued loving me, blessing me, walking with me. Forgiving me. (Adapted from my blog at https://thosewhoweep.blogspot.com/2018/11/wounded-by-god.html.)

    There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes the tunnel is long. For me, it was about three years. For some, it might last a lifetime. Sometimes it takes an effort on our part to reach the end. At other times, it’s as if we turn a corner and reach it suddenly and unexpectedly. But there is always hope.

    Thank you, Lysa, for being so honest with us, and for pointing us to Psalm 57 when we’re feeling overwhelmed by life.

    Reply
  13. Rebecca

    I started reading your book “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way” a couple of weeks ago, right before attending a Word Alive event where God spoke to my soul. I have to take the book slowly because reading each chapter is so physically emotional for me with my situation at hand. The words are as if my every thought and pain are in black and white before me – and I’m only on chapter 4. But I wanted to thank you for writing through your own pain. I’m so looking forward to the day this heavy sorrow is worth it, and am grateful He has used your sorrow to help others like me.

    Reply
  14. Tana

    Lysa – I read What Happens when Women say Yes to God during a very difficult time of which I left my husband. That book helped me in so many different ways, I could never thank you and God for the perfect timing. I just finished It’s Not Suppose to Be This Way and I cried, I laughed and I learned. I’m back home now and again, this book was perfect timing. I now reading Uninvited and am enjoying it so much. I want you to know that God has truly given you a purpose filled life and thankfully for many women (and men) He is sharing your gifts and talents in so many ways. Thank you for giving your all for the cause of Christ.

    Reply
  15. Nada Brown

    I cannot tell you how much your book It’s Not Supposed to be This Way, has helped me through one of the most difficult summers of my life. Three big life-changing obstacles called into question my faith, my trust in people I thought I knew, and my self-worth.
    But your book spoke to me . Once again God’s timing was perfect! My small group of Christian women voted to read your book, and it was exactly what I needed. You let me know no matter what happens, God/Jesus is with me through it all. And even if I cannot control my circumstances, I can always turn them over to Him, the Great Handler. I also learned I was not meant to make sense of everything in my life and around me. My trials and tribulations are not for naught because I will be rewarded in eternity.
    I have narcolepsy and often make acrostic poems using key words when listening to sermons. I found this to be a useful tool when reading your book. I made one at the end of every chapter and one to summarize the last chapter. I put them in folders for my group to remind them of your book and our study. I would love to share them with you as a thank you for your powerful message, if you or someone let’s me know how to send them privately.
    From Another Kindred Spirit.

    Reply
  16. Phyllis Smith

    I believe I was sent to your book because of where i am and wallowing in my “disappointments” in life, literally saying my life isn’t supposed to be this way and your book popped up in my kindle “suggested books”. I have just started reading and already feel less fear and desperation of dying a sinner. Thank you, I want to tell everyone about you!

    Reply
  17. Angela Barrett

    I am sort of new to reading your site. I was wondering how you would share how to be saved for an unbeliever in Christ Jesus. Your journey stories are remarkable and comforting.

    Reply
    • Lysa TerKeurst

      We sent you an email, Angela! We’re so glad you commented. – Amanda, LT Ministry Team

      Reply
  18. sarah

    i’m looking for an intensive marriage counselors near West Virginia, let me know of you know something like this counseling site. http://www.recliammarriage.com thanks

    Reply
  19. Suzanne Sloan

    Dear Lysa, Thank you! You have a gift for making the reader feel so loved by you and the only person to whom you’re writing. A friend gave me your book after my sister shot herself to death and I have since bought two copies for other friends. I thank God for you and this book.

    Reply
  20. Stephanie Williams

    So inspiring! As I read your statements it gave me more strength and courage to continue. I have been through a lot these past few weeks and my father was rushed into the hospital. I was asking my self about “the purpose” of God behind these things. Yet, I still choose to Praise the Lord. Continue to inspire more people! God bless you.

    Reply
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