“Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” -Psalm 37:3-4
Several weeks ago I read these verses and felt drawn to sit and ponder them for a while. Then I started a new small group with my church and we have been studying and pondering these verses even more. I get the impression that God really wants me to absorb the message of these verses and sink this knowledge deep within me. I also feel the desire to share what I’m learning here.
Trust in the Lord…
We begin with trust, which is defined (according to the dictionary) as a belief that God is reliable, truth, able, and strong. Let those words sink in for a moment. So often, at least for me personally, when I go through a difficult time or I’m stressed out about a circumstance in my life I do all I can to fix it. I work extra hard, I try to learn new things, I might reach out to friends or family members who could help. I rely on all sorts of things and people to try to overcome the circumstances that I face.
It is only when these people and things fail or frustrate me, or I don’t see the progress that I’m hoping for that I turn to God in exasperation and ask Him where He is and why He’s not helping. Trust. Believe that God is reliable, that He is truth, that He is able, that He is strong. What if my trust led me to turn to God first and always and all the time instead of last and sometimes and when things go wrong?
…and do good.
So we don’t actually just get to sit around and trust. We’re not supposed to just sit patiently in our circumstances and wait on God to act. We actually have to do something. We have to do some good.
This gets tricky. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I need God to lead me. What if I do the wrong thing? What if I make it worse? I’m afraid to put myself out there… But all of these thoughts and objections are fear and fear has no place in trust.
If first, we trust, then we can act without fear, trusting in the One who is reliable and truth and able and strong. So we begin to do what we know deep in our hearts is good. We take tentative, careful steps, but we move forward, doing the good that we know we should do. Even if it’s hard. Even if it’s scary. Even if we’re not entirely sure that we’re doing it right. We do good and we trust with each step that the one who is reliable and truth and able and strong is with us and will continue to be reliable and truth and able and strong within us and the good we are doing.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
How simple it sounds. Trust God, do good, and then you will live in safety and prosperity. Words are a bit easier to create than actions. This is easier said than done. But the promise still stands. If we trust and do good, God will lead us to safety and prosperity.
Our life and our circumstances may not look the way we pictured and planned, but do we have the faith to trust the life God has designed for us? A life of safety and prosperity, trusting in Him and doing good no matter the circumstances that we face.
There is more to these verses that can help us.
Take delight in the Lord…
Delight is a feeling of very great pleasure. Synonyms include enjoyment, happiness, joy, glee, and gladness.
What if we looked to God as our main source of pleasure? What if we stopped trying to find joy or create joy or choose joy and we simply spent more time with the Source of all joy?
What does it look like, in a practical, real-life, everyday sense, to take delight in the Lord?
When I take delight in my children, I spend time with them. I watch the things they do. I notice who they are. I notice their features and character. I laugh at the funny things they do. I hold them close. I talk with them. I listen to them. I recognize the unique things about them that make them who they are. I think about them often. I focus on the great things about them that I love. I remember the words they’ve said that melt my heart, the great memories we’ve created together, and the times when we overcame something challenging together.
We can do the same things with God. We take delight in God by spending time with Him, watching the things He is doing in our lives. We can notice who He is, learn about His features and characteristics. We can laugh at the funny moments in our lives that come from His hand. We can hold Him close, talk with Him, listen to Him. Recognize who He is, think about Him all throughout our day and focus on His greatness and love. We can remember the times He has moved in our lives, the things He has done for us, and the prayers He has answered.
This is delighting in the Lord. This is how He becomes our main source of delight. Our main source of joy and pleasure and glee and gladness. So often we rush through life. We might have our quiet time in the morning. We read the designated scriptures for the day, highlighting passages, jotting down notes. We read through our prayer list and say a few thoughtful words to God, at least on the good days. And then we close up our books and get on with our day. The hustle and bustle of life keep us busy and we rarely take a moment to think about God again until tomorrow morning, as long as we can pull ourselves out of bed early enough to spend a few more moments going through the motions of our quiet time.
God is calling us to something deeper than just a few moments in the early morning (if we’re lucky enough to even find time for that).
I think God is not looking to be an item on our to-do list, but rather, He is looking to be our one and only. He desires to be our passion. He desires to be our delight. He desires for our relationship with Him to be so important, so vital and valuable to us that it begins to weave itself all throughout our days and our lives.
This is tough. I don’t usually have to put my children on my to do list because they are loud and obtrusive and not easy to forget about. It’s hard for me to forget that I need to feed them and clothe them and play with them because they are in my face and asking for food and play and attention all the time. But God isn’t so obvious. I have to deliberately choose to spend time with God. I have to make the space in my life to notice Him and desire Him and delight in Him. He can be loud and obtrusive, but usually, He is not. He waits for us.
…and He will give you your heart’s desires.
We cannot have the second half of this sentence without the first. That is so important. We really need the whole section of these verses in order to truly understand this last part. Trust in the Lord, do good, and delight in the Lord, only then will He give you your heart’s desires.
It’s not because we have to win Him over. It’s not because we have to work hard to earn things from God. The reason that we must first trust and do good and delight is because when we do those things, our heart’s desires become His. It is only when we make God our source of all joy and delight that we begin to be delighted and joyful in the things that He does. We begin to see the world as He does. We find joy and pleasure by noticing Him in everything. We see the way He is working. We see the way He is moving. We begin to desire what He desires and we want what He wants because after spending all this time with Him, we know what it is and we see the beauty of it.
When our heart’s desires become His it is a beautiful thing. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. You see, humans and the stuff of this world will always disappoint. But our hope is not in this world. When we let go of our expectations of the people and circumstances in our life and instead look expectantly to the Creator of the Universe, that is when we can begin to see all the amazing and beautiful things He is doing in and around us.
As you spend time in God’s presence, talking with Him, studying Him and His word, He will reveal His heart. You will begin to see the world and your circumstances as He does. You will view things through the lens of the Creator. And your desires will begin to match His desires. Your ability to trust in His goodness and faithfulness in any circumstance you face will begin to grow, so even when you don’t know what your heart should want, you’ll trust that He does know. And He does have a plan. And He will be faithful and true and able and strong.
When we seek to fulfill our desire for joy and delight and pleasure in God, first and foremost, we will find the joy and delight and pleasure that we all so desperately want.
We will know that we can trust Him with everything because he is able and reliable and true and strong. We will know the things we should do and we will have the wisdom and strength to do them because we know Him so intimately and deeply and each step along His path will become crystal clear to us. We will live in safety and prosperity and all of our heart’s desires will be met because our desires will have come from Him in the first place.
This, my friends, is the life God wants us to live. This is the longing of His heart. He is not looking for us to be sinless and perfect. He is not looking for us to accomplish and do huge things in our own power for His glory and honor. He simply wants us to take our delight in Him. To make Him the source of our joy. This is what we all really want anyways. An abundant life of joy and peace and prosperity. It can be found my friends, but only when our primary mission in life is to take delight in our Lord.
Today’s Action Step
On a super practical level, some ideas to begin taking delight in the Lord is to spend more time in His presence, talking with Him and listening to Him. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. When your day feels chaotic and off track, pull away to Him. When things go well, turn to Him. Set reminders on your phone if you have to, but train yourself to weave God into every area of your life.
Notice what God is doing, keep a journal of prayers, answers, and list of all the things you are thankful for. Take the time to thank Him for the things you have in your life. Every good and perfect gift is from God. Thank Him for them.
Take the time to notice the beauty around you and recognize God as the source – see Him in the sunrise, the changes in nature, the laughter and the smiles, the small almost insignificant gifts of good things in your day, your children, and the opportunities you have to live a full life. It all comes from Him.