For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble! 12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant. Psalm 143:11-12
“Thank God It’s Friday!” or “TGIF” for short, expresses the intense relief commonly felt, and heard, when the final day of the week (whether literally Friday or not) ambles into daylight. The popular phrase comes from the not-so-popular movie “Thank God It’s Friday.” In the wake of 1977’s well-known Saturday Night Fever (SNF), along came 1978’s TGIF at the height of disco mania.
Saturday disco night for SNF’s main character Tony represents a reprieve from the stagnant monotony of his life and dead-end job. TGIF also centers on the disco scene as a place for those seeking solace from an unfulfilled life.
Everyone looks forward to Friday, whether your reprieve is a disco or vegging on the couch. Especially those suffering a stagnant and lifeless job. Having something to look forward to can have a mitigating effect on almost anything—driving to work, working, traffic jams, irritating co-workers, an insufferable cubicle, etc. A great burden lifts, just knowing at the end of the day, two amazing days of freedom are on the way.
Throughout Psalm 143, David could have definitely used a weekend to look forward to. He mentions his distress—life is crushed, sits in darkness (v. 3), spirit faints, heart appalled (v. 4), soul thirsts like a parched land (v. 6), spirit fails (v. 7)—and now he literally cries to God “Bring my soul out of trouble!”
“Trouble” is translated from a Hebrew word meaning “distress or straits” and covers a range of meaning which paints a vivid picture of David’s feelings. Depending on context, this word’s span of interpretation includes: “narrow, tight, confining, only able to travel in one direction, restricted, hampered, bound up, personal anguish from adverse circumstances or God’s refusal to give help or direction, a strong emotional response when pressed externally by enemies or internally by wrong decisions or passions, intense inner turmoil.”
Oh my goodness, does that sound familiar or what?
Though Scripture does not specify the context of this psalm, the various types of “trouble” could apply to many of the events of David’s life. Likewise, it can apply to many of the circumstances of our lives. Trapped. Hemmed in. No way out. Nowhere to turn. Rock bottom. Hopeless. Restricted. (ugh, I hate “restricted”!)
David’s “trouble” makes me think of one word used to describe my own “trouble”—stuck.
“Stuck” sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard.
- Stuck in a job where my heart is not, is my distress.
- Narrow, tight, confining? Cubicle.
- Travel in one direction? Emotionally down, nowhere otherwise.
- Hampered? Steals my energy for other activities.
- Bound up? Yes, I’ve lost myself and am confused.
- Personal anguish from God’s refusal to give help or direction? Yes! The most hurtful of all.
I feel betrayed, tossed to the curb, rejected by God. In my head, I know these things aren’t true, but I still feel that way. Feeling tossed to the curb by God, though untrue, is the hardest to bear.
TGIF is my Friday mantra. I live Tony’s stagnant monotony. I am one of the characters looking for solace, a heavenly disco, complete with lighted golden floors, and a disco ball made of diamonds. Reprieve from the grind of a job that provides no fulfillment, challenge, or interest.
For 17 years, I have defiantly drawn a line in the sand, resisting everything about this job, repressing the extreme hurt of unanswered prayer, denying the fact of feeling like a total failure. Resisting. Repressing. Denying. Expending energy. Wasting time. Going nowhere. Restricted!
But then I look at the words of this King, beloved and favored of God. After David offers the litany of distress symptoms, his response is instructive. Even this man after God’s own heart, who as a young man took a giant head on, finally had to admit what I need to say:
“God, I can’t fight it. I accept that I can’t fight it.”
Acceptance tells God we have surrendered to His will.
What David’s response tells us, and probably what we already know but refuse to admit, is that resistance to trouble, in whatever form it comes, will not move us forward one single step. Resistance will not eliminate the undesirable. Resisting events or circumstances in our life does not change things, no matter how soul-crushing the events or circumstances may be.
So with white flag in hand, we fall down on our knees at the mercy seat of God and state the obvious:
“God, I can’t fight it. I accept that I can’t fight it.”
Surrender is called sweet for a reason. Acceptance makes things easier not harder. Acceptance moves us forward by accepting our situation now. Acceptance does not mean we approve of the status quo. Acceptance of our circumstances, events, and hated jobs is an action that says “God, I trust you.”
With David, we come to God in prayer as His servant (Psalm 143:2). At the end of the prayer, the servant in desperate need is still God’s servant (Psalm 143:12). The relationship between God and servant is still true, even in trouble and distress. Even in being stuck. Accept that.
And accept this—with God all things are possible, even TGIF days every day.
Father God, I feel so stuck just thinking about being stuck. It is smothering. Lord, I can’t fight anymore. I accept that I can’t fight anymore. I surrender my circumstances to You. God, please, help me to move forward. God, please I want to do what I am passionate about, what You have put in my heart to do. God, please accept this prayer* from my heart: