Podcast Episode 3 - Slander and Hope
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Welcome to Jen’s New Song
My name is Jennifer Holmes and this is a podcast for those struggling with their mental health. Whether that means you’re struggling with depression or other mental illness, or you’re just going through a difficult season and need some help remembering who God is, this podcast is for you.
Right now we are working our way through a series on the Psalms and looking at how the psalmists weren’t afraid to tell God exactly how they felt, but at the end of the psalm, they reminded themselves of what they knew to be true about God. Even if they didn’t feel that way at that moment, they still reminded themselves of the truth. That’s exactly what I need to do in my life today, and maybe you do too.
My goals for this podcast are for you to feel as though you’re not alone, for us to be able to talk about the hard things, and to be able to honestly cry out to God with our difficult emotions. But I don’t want us to stay there. We don’t have to live in defeat. We can begin to renew our minds through the word of God.
Join me for today’s look at Psalm 31.
Have you ever stood in a checkout line and been surprised by the fact that someone you thought was perfectly human is supposedly an alien?
The world is full of misinformation. And it seems trite and maybe even funny when a magazine tells us someone is an alien, or prints a photoshopped picture. But what if the misinformation is about you?
What if someone is maligning you or slandering you? Or what if what they are saying is true but it’s breaking a confidence and being shared just to hurt you? Or what if someone you love is just choosing to ignore you?
This is what is happening to David in Psalm 31. He says
Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.
For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.
I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.
I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.
For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.
While I might not know what it is to fear for my actual life, I think we can all relate to David in these verses.
He was not welcomed in some spaces. Even with his neighbours. People turned their backs when they saw him coming. He has been forgotten. As though he was already dead, some people refused to acknowledge even his existence. The gossip about him was spreading so much that it had gotten back to him.
I know what it is to walk into a room and have a person I love turn their back on me. And to hear rumours of what’s being said about me when it’s not good.
I can see why David wrote a whole Psalm on this. Being treated unfairly is one of the most difficult things in life. Even if what they are saying is true, or the treatment might be fair in the world’s eyes, when there is no room for grace, it can break our hearts. And if we’re not careful, broken hearts lead to broken minds.
We can dwell on what is being said. We can obsess about ways to get back at certain people or we might make it our mission to make sure every one knows the truth about us. That it’s our job to fix people’s perception of us. We can fall into a depression, worrying that everyone thinks we are a terrible person, and we can start to wonder if its true. We can even slip into wondering why a good God would allow this.
It’s so hard to let go. Even David said in verse 6 that he hated them that regard lying vanities. It is so easy for us to allow hatred and bitterness to grow in our hearts. But David quickly realizes that is not the route he needs to go. Instead of worrying about what people are saying about him, about fixing his reputation, about defending himself, he does the only thing that really matters. He turns to God.
He says, For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.
But I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God.
My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.
Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake.
He reminds himself that the times are in God’s hands. God will take care of things the way He knows is best. And when he knows its best. Oh sometimes I wish the times were in my hands. Well, actually, I always wish the times were in my hands! But David asks God to take care of the problem and leaves it up to Him.
Verses 19-22 say
Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!
Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the Lord: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city.
For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.
Imagine that there is slander and gossip all around you, but there is one place you can hide from it. It’s not your bedroom, or withdrawing from all social situations, or loosing yourself in Netflix. The place to withdraw from all that is in the secret of God’s presence. David likens it to a secret pavilion where he knows he can go and hide. And God will receive him there. And God is good. And full of marvellous kindness. And he hears our supplications.
But that goodness and kindness and knowing you’re heard are not found in the world or in defence of yourself, or in trying to change the narrative about your life. It’s in the presence of God.
David realizes this in the middle of his trial. Notice that it’s not over yet! He doesn’t have peace in his life yet. He is still in fear and in sadness over what is going on, still asking God for deliverance. And yet, in the middle of all that, he reminds himself of what he knows to be true about his God. That only God’s presence offers peace.
He ends with this little sermon to himself. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.
Friend, be of good courage. Don’t fall into bitterness or anger or obsession. Instead, dwell in the secret pavilion of God’s presence. Because when your hope is only in the Lord, he will strengthen your heart and give you the courage to face each day.
Thank you for joining me today. If you would like more daily encouragement, follow me on Instagram or Facebook @jensnewsong. If you hit the subscribe button on your listening app, you won’t miss an episode. And I’d love it if you’d allow me the privilege to send you a newsletter - it’s full of encouraging articles, the latest news about what’s happening here and on the blog, and it’s one of my favourite places to chat with my listeners and readers. You can sign up today at jensnewsong.com/join As always, all this information is in the show notes for you. I wrote this prayer, maybe you would like to adopt it as your own?
People may turn their backs on us. You never will. People may believe the worst about us and stop loving us, You know the worst about us and love us with an everlasting love anyway. People may slander or accuse us, you protect us. Thank you for the courage, love, hope, and peace that is only found in your presence. Help us to dwell there this week.