Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart”
Psalm 37:4. The Bible verse everyone wants to come true and loves to hear, yet few ever truly dive deep enough to receive the blessings and gifts promised from this special verse.
Sometimes, we lightheartedly want this verse to come true…we think of all of the wonderful things we would want if God would magically grant us the whimsical desires of our hearts. Other times, this verse becomes almost a “911” sort of verse…a verse we become intensely interested in while we are going through an emergency situation in life.
God truly cares about each and every situation we go through, and He truly cares about all of the desires of our hearts—the whimsical and fanciful, as well as the emergency and important desires we have. God greatly desires to fully bless His children, and He sincerely wants to lavish great gifts onto those who genuinely love Him and delight in Him. (Matthew 7:11, James 1:17)
This past year, I’ve been going through a very tough grief experience…the toughest one I’ve ever had to walk through. A grief experience so personal and heartbreaking, very few even know about it. I knew from the start of this particular journey that there wouldn’t be a “quick fix” available. Other than praying, I eventually found I wouldn’t have the ability to do anything about this specific grief experience at all.
God has repeatedly asked me to trust Him, to wait, build my faith, wait some more, build my faith even deeper, continue to trust Him more, and to lay this grief experience completely at His feet—simply being still as God works completely in His timing. Waiting and being still are extremely hard…I’m a much better “doer” than a “waiter,” yet God has supplied me with a greater hope, trust, and faith than I have ever known or experienced.
It was not easy at first. This grief event has tested my faith more than any other experience I’ve ever been through…but it’s refined my faith and proven it to be more genuine than ever before.
This grief experience is what brought me to seek the meaning of Psalm 37:4. For me, it’s been an utter desperation of pleading with God to give me the deepest desire of my heart.
I’ve been blessed to learn many rich spiritual lessons throughout the past year, and I want to encourage anyone who is going through an extremely challenging time to not give up. God is listening to your heart’s cries…He truly does care…He has a plan to see you through the challenging event you are facing! He is not going to abandon you! He hears you and He sees your heartache and tears…they are not in vain.
What hard life event are you going through today? Are you, like me, seeking God with all your heart for answers? Are you desperate to have your deepest heart’s desires realized and brought to life? Are you wanting to seek and delight in God but you’re not quite sure where to begin?
I’m going to share some of what I’ve learned this past year. I truly hope it helps and encourages many today.
When looking at Psalm 37:4, I wanted instant results for the situation. God had other plans…and I’m grateful He did. Had He simply given me the desire of my heart instantly, I would not have grown as much as I have this year. I would’ve missed out on priceless, authentic lessons that have greatly changed me.
Just to be clear, I’m not over here skipping through fields of daisies and cheesily saying, “I’m so thankful for rich spiritual lessons, and you should be, too!”…No, not. at. all. The situation I’m praying for is literally a matter of life and death, and MANY tears have been poured through numerous prayers…so if God would’ve answered it immediately, I would definitely have taken it! However, I’m a firm believer in if God allows me to go through it, I’m going to grow through it.
But, sometimes, God asks us to wait. He requests that we be completely still and trust Him. And waiting, trusting, and being still is HARD! Especially when it appears that nothing is happening. It becomes even harder when things look like they’re getting worse. But…this is the exact place we’d truly want to be if we knew all of the facts from God’s perspective.
Allowing God to train us to see life, and challenges in life, through His perspective—an eternal perspective—is what makes the difference between growing in faith…or growing in doubt and bitterness. It’s what makes the difference between pressing forward in hope and faith…or giving up. It’s what makes the difference between trusting Him and growing closer to His heart…or rejecting Him. It is imperative to have, and keep, an eternal perspective when going through grief, trials, and life challenges. If you don’t, you begin to spiritually die.
It’s not always easy, though.
One day, a few months ago, I became very frustrated about the situation I am facing. In my frustration, because no change had been seen in the situation for over a year…despite fasting and praying…I began to nurse a little hopelessness and bitterness. Heart and gut wrenching thoughts popped into my mind…”This situation is not fair…I genuinely did nothing to deserve this…why am I having to walk through this? God, why are you not helping me…why aren’t you helping me when You could instantly heal and fix this?”
I stayed upset for a few days…then realized how wickedly ungrateful I was being.
As I was focusing on what all I felt God was not giving me…I failed to see and truly appreciate all God had given and was currently giving to me.
It needs to be said: having questions does not make a person ungrateful…and wading through the waters of frustration or disappointment doesn’t mean a person is wicked, lacks faith, or that they are wrong. I knew my own personal heart, though, and it verged on being ungrateful and bitter.
Some very convicting thoughts came to mind…How many of my heart’s desires had God already given to me throughout my life…and how many of my heart’s desires has God currently been giving to me that I had not even asked Him or thanked Him for?
I felt God asking me to make a list of all I was grateful for. As I made the list, I effortlessly wrote down 157 blessings and gifts from God I was incredibly grateful for…not too shabby for the God I was accusing of not giving me my heart’s desires just days before. And of those 157 things, other than #1 being God, #2 being family, #3 being friends/neighbors, and #4 being church family, the remaining 153 items didn’t include all of the people I’ve gotten the incredible joy of knowing and enjoying in my lifetime…or the wonderful memories I had the privilege of making with them. Many of my truest heart’s desires have graciously and extravagantly already been given to me by my Father God! My heart broke as I thought of how I was tempted to be so upset with God…thinking He owed me more…all because one very important heart’s desire wasn’t being answered the way I wanted it to be.
How many times do we focus on the one or two things God has not given us, or the one or two people or things God has allowed to be taken away from us, yet we fail to see all of the good God has freely given to us…much of which we don’t deserve, we did not earn, and we may not have even asked Him for?
I needed to repent because I needed to want a dynamic relationship with God as much, if not more, as I wanted the dynamics of the situation to change. The situation is dire, and is still extremely important to me…extremely…just my relationship with God is more vital—and I trust Him!
Instead of saying, “This situation is not fair…I genuinely did nothing to deserve this…why am I having to walk through this? God, why are you not helping me?”….I instead choose to say, “God, the amount You have willingly and graciously chosen to put up with from me—all of my sins, ungratefulness, idolatries, attitudes, shortcomings, mistakes and failures—throughout my lifetime is not fair…The amount of kindness and goodness You have freely given to me and blessed me with is not fair or deserved…I genuinely did nothing to deserve all of Your love, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, gifts, and favor…Thank You for all of the good in my life, God…I will trust You with the path You are allowing. Work it out in YOUR time, not mine…YOU are the truest treasure and YOU should be the deepest desire of my heart—over, above, and beyond my desire for You to intervene in the challenge I am facing…I will delight in You no matter what!”
That day changed everything. I began to focus more on desiring and delighting in God, instead of focusing on my situation.
It makes no humanly sense. Really, it doesn’t. But, through eyes of an eternal perspective, it makes perfect sense.
I realized through focusing on my life challenge, I had lost my primary focus on God. It made me think of Peter in the Bible (Matthew 14:22-36). Jesus had asked Peter to walk on the water to Him, through the treacherous waves, but Peter began to sink because he focused on the storm and took his focus off of the One who had control of the storm. Jesus could have easily just stopped the storm. No doubt about it. But, the focus was never to be about the storm; the focus was to trust Jesus, take His hand, and run into His arms, away from the storm.
Today, in your situation, are you focusing so much on the storm that you’re sinking? Have you lost your eternal perspective so that you are not able to see your Savior’s loving arms that are reached out to you?
It’s entirely way too easy to do. We’re all human, in need of God’s love, mercy, help and grace. I’m super grateful God keeps that in mind!
Maybe, as I did, you need to get alone with God and pour your heart out to Him. Cry your fiercest tears, share with Him all of the hurts, pain, fears, worries, needs, and concerns. Share with Him—right or wrong—all that you are feeling, so you can run through the storm you are facing into His arms.
He IS there in your storm, and He WILL catch you! He may ask you to walk to Him, then be still…trust Him…wait…and even wait some more…but He is not going to leave you. He is not going to fail you or fail your situation! When we genuinely trust Him and TRULY delight in Him, He begins to smooth away the rockiness of our waves.
But, first, we must learn to TRULY delight in God.
Ask God to teach you to authentically delight in Him…asking Him to speak powerfully to your heart. If there’s sin in your life, ask Him for His grace to remove the sin and then, with His daily help, choose to sin no more and replace your sin with the fruits of His Spirit and His righteousness. If there’s extreme hurt and bitterness in your heart, ask Him for His grace to remove it…and ask Him to replace your hurts and bitterness with a softness of heart and genuine love. If there’s pride, or any other negative character quality or emotion, ask for forgiveness and give God full control of your life and situation. (Ezekiel 11:17-21)
Do whatever it takes, whatever is needed, so you truly are freed up spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically to delight in God and to love Him with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength!
When it all comes down to it, God—and our relationship with Him—is far more important than anything and anyone. He is totally worth pursuing with all of our heart! And He truly rewards those who seek Him when their motives are pure and right. (Jeremiah 29:13, Psalm 14:2, Acts 17:27-28, Hebews 11:6, Matthew 6:33-34, 2 Chronicles 30:18-20, Deuteronomy 4:15-40, Ezekiel 36)
What an amazing, rich, incredible gift we each are allowed and given every single day! A gift so miraculous…so incredibly special, prized, and powerful! God has blessed us with the ability to choose to unwrap this amazing gift every single day…the extraordinary gift of a deep friendship with Him and the ability to talk to Him anywhere, anytime!
We have the ability to talk with God of the universe…the very One who formed and created the entire world and the stars…the One who lovingly hand knitted and created us and the people we love and cherish the most…the One who, through Him, everything came to be! The Creator of everything! God, of Heaven and earth, who is preparing a place in Heaven for us!
Why wouldn’t we want to talk to God and delight in Him most? Over and above all the people we know and love? Over and above our interests and the activities and hobbies we enjoy everyday? And…yes, even over, above, and beyond the situations that break our hearts and attempt to steal our joy and our focus on the One we should desire and love the most?
I’ve found, this past year, that the problem wasn’t God not answering my prayers or not giving me the desires of my heart…the problem is I failed to genuinely honor, love, and truly obey Him, and authentically delight in Him.
If you had asked me if I did these things before, I would’ve absolutely replied, “yes,”…yet, God has shown me “blind spots” in my life that I didn’t realize were there that have needed correcting. And, these blind spots kept me from fully delighting in God.
Today, what blind spots are keeping you from fully delighting in God? Are you willing to humble and get real with yourself and allow God to remove them?
As I was talking to God about everything, as well as my blind spots, I realized how much change was needed in my heart. I even went the extra step of asking those closest to me to share the blind spots they personally saw. I was serious about delighting in God and removing anything that prevented me from doing so. Warning: don’t ask those closest to you about your blind spots unless you truly want to hear uncomfortable truths. Your feelings will probably get hurt, too. Be prepared to take an open minded, honest look at your life with an expectation to humbly handle it in love and with a goal of truly wanting to change.
As you seek to delight in God, be prepared for Him to weed out the garden of your heart. He wants your whole heart, and He genuinely cares what condition your heart is in. God will reveal all that is keeping you from truly delighting in Him…your idols: all of the people, things, possessions, activities, sins, hobbies, attitudes, thoughts, blind spots—everything. He desires your whole heart and He wants your heart to beat with health and life!
I think as we go to God and learn how to deeply and authentically delight in Him, we begin to care more about the desires of God’s heart…and we begin to ask Him, “What delights You? What are the greatest desires of Your heart?”
When we get to that point, and it truly is genuine, I believe God begins to work in miraculous ways…ways we’ve never seen or experienced ever before.
God brought me to this excellent passage of scripture. As you read this, please allow God to speak deeply into your heart.
Hebrews 12: 1-3, “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! 4-11 In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?
My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in (or experiencing) isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. 12-13 So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it! 14-17 Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears. 18-21 Unlike your ancestors, you didn’t come to Mount Sinai—all that volcanic blaze and earthshaking rumble—to hear God speak. The earsplitting words and soul-shaking message terrified them and they begged him to stop. When they heard the words—“If an animal touches the Mountain, it’s as good as dead”—they were afraid to move. Even Moses was terrified. 22-24 No, that’s not your experience at all. You’ve come to Mount Zion, the city where the living God resides. The invisible Jerusalem is populated by throngs of festive angels and Christian citizens. It is the city where God is Judge, with judgments that make us just. You’ve come to Jesus, who presents us with a new covenant, a fresh charter from God. He is the Mediator of this covenant. The murder of Jesus, unlike Abel’s—a homicide that cried out for vengeance—became a proclamation of grace. 25-27 So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he’s told us this quite plainly—he’ll also rock the heavens: “One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.” The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered. 28-29 Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!”
Through reading Hebrews 12, I realized it was a missing piece of the puzzle for how to truly begin to delight in God. I clearly was able to see how important it was to strip away anything that was keeping me from fully loving God…how important it is to allow Him to garden my heart…to burn away anything that is keeping me from running a clean and effective race for Him.
You may be thinking, “You have no idea what I’m going through…or the pain I’m drowning in…I’m at my wits’ end!”…
If you are drowning in the middle of the ocean and in the eye of the storm of a massive heartache or problem, please understand that usually is where God reveals the most treasure…and the very place where the strongest testimonies are in the making! Consider the following two passages of scripture:
Psalm 107:23-32, “Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters. They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep. For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered like drunkards; they were at their wits’ end. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.”
Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…”
I hope all of the Bible verses and my transparency today was helpful and I hope your heart has been encouraged.
So very sorry for the longer than normal blog post; I was going to break it up into a 3-day series, but I wanted to help those who are desperate for help now.
Ask God, right now, to help you in whatever grief journey or life challenge you are facing. Ask Him for His grace to fall more deeply in love with Him, to see your situation from His perspective, and for good gifts of His choosing. He never fails His children and He can make great good come from any situation. It may not look anything like what we had originally wanted or desired in our own hearts, but with God’s power, it could be more than we could ever ask, think or imagine!
May God ABUNDANTLY bless you as you seek His heart and learn how to delight extravagantly in Him!
Always remember: Psalm 34:18-19, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all”
A few more scriptures to encourage you. Long, but well worth the read, as it ties everything together:
Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
Philippians 3:8-14, “Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish, in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One), And that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law’s demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith. [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]. Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.”
Friends, press on toward the goal and prize Christ has for you. Seek Him with all of your heart. If you feel you are drowning in your situation, remember that God has not brought you there to drown you…He has allowed you to be placed there to teach you treasures in the deep and to cleanse and renew your heart! Learn to fully delight yourself in God and His amazing, beautiful heart!
Isaiah 45:3, “And I will give you treasures of darkness–secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.”
I plan to blog about some special ways God has taught me to delight in Him. I hope this future post will be helpful and encouraging as well!
Gratitude & many blessings,
©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.
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For more encouragement:
Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com
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FREE YouVersion reading plans:
1. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays
2. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships
3. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed
4. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites
Kim’s book: Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617