I am so very thankful For God’s tender mercies to us richly revealed through His Word and compassionately ministered to our souls. What precious knowledge to know He sees and knows our hearts, minds and souls. He intimately knows our sorrows and not one of our tears escapes His notice.
God graciously and repeatedly acknowledges in scripture the deep sorrow of a mother’s heart upon losing her child. As Simeon prophesied to Mary about the role of Jesus, he told her a sword would pierce her soul. Certainly Mary’s sorrow was unique because of who Jesus is, but the description of her soul being sword pierced resonates within me.
“and a sword will pierce even your own soul…” Luke 2:35 [NASB95]
My soul is sword pierced. A sharp and abiding, ever-present sorrow throbs deep within me. Its presence is continual but not always dominant. Peace, contentment and joy regularly rise and remain above it like melodious songs above a drumbeat. But some days the melodies fade behind the drumming of sorrow.
“My soul weeps because of grief; Strengthen me according to Your word” Psalm 119:28 [NASB95]
This past week the drumbeat has regularly rivaled and intermittently dominated the melodies. My soul has felt weary. Yesterday I needed to look for something of Sarah’s. I love going through her belongings, particularly her artwork and journals, but rarely do because it often feels like a twisting of the sword.
I thought I had previously seen all of her artwork, but not long into searching, I found this precious painting.
As read it I was instantly struck by God’s compassion. This was a much older painting, in with other items from her younger years, but I have no doubt it was He who drew her all those years ago to this passage and compelled her to rejoice in it. And it was He who put this precious treasure in my hands in this moment as the beating of sorrow echoes so loudly.
“I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness, Because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul” Psalm 31:7 [NASB95]
Earlier this week I was reminded of and struck afresh by the words of Psalm 23:3, “He restores my soul…” As I pondered them again this morning I questioned how they fit with the persistent sorrow of my soul.
Barnes Notes on the Bible says this about what it means to restore our souls, “It refers to the spirit when exhausted, weary, or sad; and the meaning is, that God quickens or vivifies the spirit when thus exhausted.” Gill’s Exposition says, “when fainting, swooning, and ready to die away, he fetches it back again, relieves, refreshes, and comforts with the discoveries of his love, with the promises of his word, and with the consolations of his Spirit, and such like reviving cordials.”
I love that, “when fainting, swooning, and ready to die away, he fetches it back again, relieves, refreshes, and comforts with the discoveries of his love, with the promises of his word, and with the consolations of his Spirit.” How often He has done exactly that for me, and once again today.
“Come [and] hear, all who fear God, And I will tell of what He has done for my soul.” Psalm 66:16 [NASB95]
Like Paul’s thorn, the sorrow of my soul remains. But like Paul I choose to rejoice in it, recognizing it uniquely allows me to experience God’s provision in comforting and “restoring my soul.” Apart from this sorrow I could not know the depth and richness of his love, promises and consolation that I now know. This aching sorrow makes me dependent on Him, my weakness displaying His strength. It also gives me an urgency for His coming, keeping my eyes lifted above the horizon and my hope fixed firmly on the grace to be brought at His revelation.
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober [in spirit,] fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:13 [NASB95]
If you also bear a sword pierced soul, cry out to Him. He is faithful and compassionate. He longs to comfort you. As you choose to turn and entrust your aching soul, and the sword that has pierced it, to Him, like so many of the Psalmists and me, you will soon find the cadence of sorrow accompanied by the melodious songs of His sustaining faithfulness.
“Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul.” Psalm 54:4 [NASB95]