Keep your head above water

The adage “keep your head above water” is certainly applicable to faithfully living the Christian life when you are feeling overwhelmed. The sensation of drowning in the midst of problems, struggles, and challenges calls for a determined trust in God that is greater than our feelings. David was familiar with the trauma caused by life, and he often expresses the raw emotion of those in the Psalms.

Psalm 69:20 is one such confession by David. Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none. When life is ticking along smoothly, we give little thought to preparing for the times of struggle. Regardless of the source of your tauntings, be they health, financial, relational, or decisions gone bad, reaching that point of  heart break and despair is torturous. The sense of aloneness can be demoralising to say the least. David was there; human friendship had failed, personal resources had failed, there was no light in his tunnel of life, but he knew Yahweh would not fail him.

Psalm 69:1-3 records David’s initial cry of despair. ​Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. 2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. 3 I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. David had reached his end. His perception of life was understandably human in its focus, and he was tired of waiting for God to respond in the way he expected. Yet, in spite of the seemingly hopeless nature of his situation, David calls out in dependence upon the God of hope. But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness (Psalm 69:13).

Burnt out expectations eventually yielded to the providential love of God which supplied the required trust that David lacked (Psalm 40:4; Jeremiah 17:7). This trust looked to God for what seemed impossible, and it clung to God for compassionate relief at the most appropriate time. Like David, we can keep our heads above water when all else seems lost by trusting God. Trust that He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5) regardless of circumstances and what others may say.

Never give up on prayer, that God will embed within you acceptance, patience, and relief. Pray for His presence to be the comfort you need. Pray for wisdom to discern God operating within your heart and to observe His coordination of external events (James 1:5). Pray for common sense to navigate the complexities of your situation in ways that will lead you closer to the Lord Jesus Christ. Determine to rest in God’s plan for your life to glorify Him. Wait for God to work in His time and through the supportive people He brings into your life.

Never abandon reading God’s Word. Talk to the Lord about what you’re reading. Question Him. Share your raw thoughts and feelings with Him. Worship Him with whatever thoughts of gratitude you can muster. Distract yourself from the surrounding problems with times of spiritual focus using whatever methods are available to you. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8).

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