The going was getting tough, and it was increasingly tough to get going. His was a cast down soul . . . bowed before the weight of the waves that crashed upon him. His was an internal, turbulent commotion that sucked the very life out of his inner man. And so his soul was consumed with ardent longing.
He panted for his God as a deer would for flowing streams. He thirsted for the living God and for the restoration of the joyous communion he had once known when he would “go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.” Though he longed for feasting at the table set for Him by the Lord, his Shepherd, for now, the psalmist writes, “My tears have been my food day and night.”
Day and night. Tears as his food.
But as the songwriter pours out his longing, God whispers into his disquieted soul a reminder of divine faithfulness.
By day the LORD commands His steadfast love,
and at night His song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life. (Psalm 42:8 ESV)
How’s that for a dietary substitution? Tears in the day, replaced by the promise that God commands His steadfast love upon His own. Tears at night, swapped out for the song of the redeemed . . . heavenly melody accompanying the confession of earthly realities, all to the “God of my life.”
No one goes looking for a desert. No one invites their enemies to pummel them. No one welcomes the pricey consequences of sin. But sometimes, one or more of those waterfalls is allowed to pass through God’s caring hands and overwhelm us. Times come when the waves break hard and fast and we feel as though we can barely keep our head above water. When all we can do is cry out . . . literally . . . to heaven for mercy. When all we want to do is drink deep of the living water. But when our food, day and night, is but tears.
But it is in those times that God, through the abiding testimony of His blessed Spirit, directs His unfailing love toward us. It’s in those times that our night bed can be a worship center as we know, deep within, that His mercies truly are new every morning and that His grace is truly sufficient in every circumstance.
And so He substitutes the tears of the day for divine reminders of His love. He swaps out wet eyes at night for a singing tongue. He corrals random thoughts of despair and directs them towards His heavenly throne of grace as petitions of faith.
And with this dietary substitute of love, praise, and prayer for tears, there is hope.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him,
my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:11 ESV)
To Him be all the praise . . . and all the glory . . .