Recovery Is Everything

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Ps. 38:21–22

Do not forsake me, O LORD!
     O my God, be not far from me!
Make haste to help me, 
     O Lord, my salvation! (ESV) 

A number of years ago I briefly taught elementary school, and I noticed that my students just couldn’t resist comparing grades with one another. This drove me bananas. I’m not much for competition to begin with, and the last thing I wanted was for kids to feel superior simply because they got a high grade on a quiz. Besides, I was teaching at a Christian school, and it seemed as though the last thing God would want is this sort of budding pharisaical behavior.
At last I ended up with a plan. First, I returned all assignments face down—no need to share your grade with anyone else. Invariably, however, students would turn to another kid and hiss, “What did you get?” So I offered a secondary response. If possible, students were to simply look at their interrogator and reply with nothing more than a broad smile. If that didn’t work, I instructed them to simply reply, “God loves me.” No explanation of a grade—good or bad—just a reminder that this was temporary in the light of God’s eternal love.
I look at Psalm 38 and see the same idea. David doesn’t deny that he has failed his quiz, so to speak. He admits that he is “benumbed and badly crushed…because of the agitation of [his] heart.” To compound matters, he is once again surrounded by those who would gladly bring him even lower. This would be the perfect time to lash out in anger and rationalization, right? Just let me explain…it’s not what you think.
But it is exactly what we think, and David knows it, too. He has again failed the most high God, but this time David knows just what to do: he simply keeps silent and says to himself, God loves me.


Phil Bryan

Phil Bryan and his wife Becca are the parents of twins, Trixie and Billy. Phil works as a high school teacher at The Episcopal School of Dallas. He is also a leader of a Sunday-morning connection group at TFC.