When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
-Psalm 94:19

Giving thanks is a good thing. I don’t think anyone can argue that. We know it honors God and can produce true joy in us. We know it’s a worthwhile way to worship Him.

I do well at this type of worship...when things are going well in my life. But when either I myself am suffering in some way, or I have been directly engaging in the suffering of others, my ability to give thanks to God goes awry. And lately, as I have more closely witnessed hurt and injustice in the foster care system, my thanksgiving has completely fallen off the map.

My words of worship sound more like words of woe. Words of wondering...words that wrestle with anger, confusion, and an immature demand for immediate answers. Why? Where are you, God? When will you come back and end this, for good? Wrap up these wounds and lift us out. Wrap them up and take us home.

Paul says that we should give thanks “always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

Always and for everything. To you, God, in the name of Christ.

These are right words. Sometimes they might sound all garbled in my ears, but I can still warble when sorrows like sea billows roll. He is still good, even if my thanks comes out sort of melancholy. It is well with my soul.

Thank God for Psalm 94. In the middle of a circuit focused on celebrating His divine kingship over all of creation and His people — “The Lord reigns...the Lord reigns!” — here we have a dark little lament that gives us a great, big, bright, mighty hope.

O Lord, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!
O Lord, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?

They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
They crush your people, O Lord,
and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the sojourner,
and murder the fatherless;
and they say, “The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.”

Oh yes, Lord. We know vengeance belongs to you. You are our only recourse. We are desperate for you.

Understand, O dullest of the people!
Fools, when will you be wise?
He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
He who teaches man knowledge—
the Lord—knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath.

You hear. You see. You teach. You know!

Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord,
and whom you teach out of your law,
to give him rest from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the Lord will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.

What a wild, wonderful truth — that suffering and learning your Word and your ways are a respite to us until the day you finally set everything right again. Jesus is coming back. You will not leave us in the waiting.

Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
If the Lord had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.

You. Show. Up. You show up in love, both on our behalf and in our place, even when we are backsliding. Without you, we have no words at all. You pursue and specifically comfort our heavy, lost, disappointed hearts.

Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who frame injustice by statute?
They band together against the life of the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the Lord our God will wipe them out.

You are the winner. Chaos is not the king. Brokenness is not the king. You are.

These are weird words of thankfulness in Psalm 94, but I am grateful for them, and will embrace them for the not-weird assurance that they give. They remind me that God’s justice and His will will be done. They convince me of His powerful sovereignty and perfect authority. They drive away my doubts, discontentment, disillusionment, and despair.

They tell me, ultimately: He’s got this. And that is a good thing.

Amy Carbo

Amy is a member of Cornerstone, Wife to Dan, and mother to Penn, Indie, and Cali.

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