March 22, 2024

Thomas Deetjen
"Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you."
Psalm 33:20-22

When my plans unfold differently than I hoped, when disaster unsettles my life, when familiar temptations stalk me, I need someone to be my help and shield.

I often turn first to myself. Pride falsely whispers to my heart, “You can rescue your plans, stabilize your disaster, and master your temptation. You don’t need God’s help for that.” But, when I follow this call to self-reliance, the outcome always disappoints. Self-reliance is not the way.

The psalmist reminds me, instead, to find my help and shield in the Lord.

When my flesh desires only action and haste, the psalmist urges patience; our soul waits for the Lord. This waiting gives me time to remember what I know from experience—when I have the option to rely on the Lord, choosing self-reliance is ridiculous! Can I match God’s power? Do I rival His wisdom? Can I even correctly guess which outcome would best solve my problem?

When I answer those questions honestly, it shifts my heart away from pride and toward the comfort of relying instead on the Lord. I can release the burden of trying to work my situation into something good. What a relief! The psalmist agrees, “for our heart is glad in him because we trust in his holy name.”

And what can gladden our heart more than to anticipate Easter? Who can help us overcome our sin? Who can shield us from our deserved eternal wrath? In our most confident self-reliance, we must admit in despair that we cannot. But Jesus can. And by the work of the cross, He turns our heart from despair toward gladness in Him.