Words have creative power. God spoke, and a universe was born! Jesus spoke, and the sick were healed, demons were cast out and the dead rose. Made in God’s image, our words have tremendous power too, both to build up and to tear down. That’s why it hurts so bad when someone uses words against us. In our new series, The Way Up, we’ll see the wordsmiths of the Bible using the artistic and creative power of words to glorify God and pray powerfully…with miraculous results.
1. When you’re down, cry out
- The Psalms of Ascent are songs the Israelites would sing on their journey up to Jerusalem, “the city on the hill.” They are psalms for anyone on a journey or pilgrimage –– which is all of us. We’re all on a journey with Jesus.
- The Psalmists teach us how to relate to the Lord when we’re down or in distress: we cry out to God. God doesn’t shy away from our honesty. In fact, he wants us to cry out honestly to him. Sometimes as Christians, we pretend everything is good or straightforward, instead of hard and confusing.
- Our God is a God who leverages problems. One of the most important things in our lives is to make sure the people we get advice from are wise and discerning, and to make sure it’s Jesus we’re crying out to.
- When someone rips us off or is dishonest with us, it’s understandable that we would be heartbroken. The Psalmist here doesn’t just accept that at face-value; he comes before the Lord with his problems and asks for God’s help.
What distress are you facing right now? How do you need to cry out to the Lord? What would you say to the Lord if you were being 100% honest with him?
2. When words hurt, consider the source
- Hurt people hurt people. When someone hurts us, it’s important to remember that it is not God who is hurting us. He is a Father who loves us and wants to welcome and comfort us in the moments we are hurting.
- In those moments, we need to return to the truth of Scripture. We need to remind ourselves of what God says about us. We need to return to his Word and let it strengthen and settle us.
- In the same way, if the criticism we are experiencing is from someone whose advice we wouldn’t trust, we don’t need to hold their words with such weight.
Describe a time it was hard to distinguish between the hurtful words of someone in your life and the love of God for you. How did God meet you there? If someone has said hurtful or untrue things to or about you, what does God say to and about you instead?
3. Always remember how good the Lord is
- In hard times, we have to remember the character of God: we need to pray out what we know of God, not just what we see of God in our circumstances. He has not changed, regardless of what happens in the world around us.
- God always wants to do a work of redemption in our lives, and he is a miracle-working God. Rich in mercy and love for us, God wants to demonstrate his goodness to us. When everything feels like it’s falling apart, we need to cling to the promises of God.
- We can rest in patience because of God’s constant, unchanging nature. We see in this psalm. No matter how long we have been waiting, God never falls asleep –– he’s got us, he keeps us, and he has good plans for us.
Describe a time you saw God’s goodness tangibly in your life. Where are you at with that now? Do you see God’s goodness in your present circumstances? If not, what promises of God do you need to cling to? Spend some time in prayer, praying out the characteristics of God in Psalm 121, and bringing your needs and desires before him.
Optional Follow-up Questions:
- What makes you say that?
- How do you feel about that?
- How would you explain your answer to a non-Christian friend or neighbor?
- Why did God design it to work that way? Why not just do (whatever else) instead?
- What would you say to someone who disagrees with that?
- Why do we really have to do it like that? Why can’t we just go (some other route) instead?