June 24, 2016 • Life for Leaders
All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.
Have you ever worked so hard and so long that you made yourself sick? Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your colleagues and even your friends at work were avoiding you, perhaps even whispering behind your back? If so, then you can relate to Psalm 38.
The fact that God knows every longing of my heart gives me freedom to be myself before the Lord.
This psalm was written in a time of deep anguish and exhaustion. David was physically ill. He believed that his suffering was a result of his own poor choices (38:3). His friends and companions were avoiding him (38:11). Moreover, his enemies were making plans to destroy him (38:12). In desperation, he cried out to God for help, thus composing the prayer we know as Psalm 38.
In the center of this prayer David says, “All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you” (38:9). David has laid himself bare before God. He has opened his heart, sharing every desire and every discouragement. He has hidden nothing from the Lord, aware that God sees everything.
How do you respond to the idea that God knows all of your longings? When I consider this truth, at first I feel reassured. How good it is to remember that God knows everything I want. But then I am caught up short. I am well aware that some of my desires are selfish and sinful. I’d rather keep these secret, or at least that’s my initial thought. I’m not so sure I want God to know all of my longings.
But then, as I reflect more deeply, I am once again reassured. God knows even my evil desires, yet he still loves me. God knows how easily I can seek after my own good and glory, yet he still has called me into his service. The fact that God knows every longing of my heart gives me freedom to be myself before the Lord. I don’t have to pretend when I pray. I don’t have to phrase my confession so it doesn’t sound too bad. Rather, I can freely reveal all that I am to the Lord, confident that his acceptance of me is not predicated on my goodness, but on his grace.
Thus, in the complex life of the workplace, where we confront opposition from others and, sometimes, the evil of our own hearts, we don’t have to hold back with God. We can tell him everything: our fears and dreams, our joys and sorrows, our victories and failures. In the end, God will come to help us because he is, indeed, our Lord and our Savior (38:22).
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
How does the thought that God knows your every longing impact you? Is this reassuring? Troubling? Encouraging?
Do you ever try to hide from God? Why?
What encourages you to open your heart freely and fully to God?
Gracious God, yes, indeed, you know what I long for. Every desire of my heart is known to you. You know the good desires, the bad, and all that’s in between. You see when I want your ways and when I seek my own. You know me through and through.
Yet you still accept me through Christ. I belong to you forever, not because I am worthy, but because you have chosen me in love. Thus, I can open my life to you in the knowledge that you already know me and have embraced me through your grace.
Help me, dear Lord, to live in the reassurance that you know me through and through. May I learn to live in you each moment, communing with you, attending to your Spirit, seeking your glory. Amen.
Explore online Bible commentary: Introduction to Psalms at the Theology of Work Project.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.