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Worship In Hard Times

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
October 29, 2021 2:00 am

Worship In Hard Times

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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October 29, 2021 2:00 am

How can we worship God through the really hard times? Courtney Reissig shares her story and tells how God met her through His Word.

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Alright, so you know what I did when COVID hit, and I started reading a certain book in the Bible. Yeah, you started reading Psalms, the book of Psalms.

The funny thing is, I didn't know. I started before COVID. And then after, I was like, maybe God led me there because the book of Psalms was so emotive. And it felt like I was reading scripture of people that were going through a pandemic. You know, sort of like I was, you know, and it just gave words to the feelings we had. I'm so glad that I was reading that during the pandemic.

It just shows how relevant God's Word is to everything that we go through. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on our Family Life app.

This is Family Life Today. I remember you doing that, and I read the Bible through every year. Yeah, we'll be driving down the road.

And every time we're on like a road trip. Let me read you the book of Psalms. Let me read you this Psalm. Let me read you what I'm reading today.

You're going to love it. And Dave doesn't like it when I read out loud. So why are we saying all that? I don't like that. I don't know why. I should enjoy it.

You pretend you do. Yeah, I just, I like it when you read scripture. And today we've got Courtney Ricek with us today who wrote a book about the Psalms called Teach Me to Feel, worshiping through the Psalms in every season of life, even the COVID season, right? Right.

Even during COVID. Courtney, welcome to Family Life Today. Thanks for having me. We're glad to have you back.

Yeah, I'm glad to be back. So you're a writer. You're a teacher, Bible teacher, the managing director of Risen Motherhood, which is a phenomenal ministry.

Most importantly, though, you're a mother of four. I am. Married how long? Almost 12 years.

Wow. Well, anyway, as I opened up your book and read the first chapter about your sort of experience in the hospital, which led you to the book of Psalms, man, what a compelling story. I mean, none of us want to live what you went through because you walk in one day thinking you're just going to go home that day and you end up almost a month in a hospital with this pregnancy. And it was a tough time.

It was, yeah. I know that's where you start the book, sort of telling us your feelings going through that time. The doctor on call came in and then the contraction just kept getting worse. And she was like, I think you're having a placenta abruption and a placenta abruption.

If it's a full abruption means certain death for the baby within five minutes and 10 minutes for the mom, the other complexity is we have three other children. And so, I mean, you were there, you helped take care of them, but they went from having me every day to three weeks of a steady stream of different people every day. Well, and I remember they were listless little boys. They were, they would cry. They didn't understand. My dad decided to go get them and drive them back to Florida where they, my parents live.

And so it took a lot of the frightening nature of what was happening to them out of the equation. But it was the worst experience of my life. What if they leave and I die?

What if I die and they don't see me again and I don't get to say goodbye to them? I had to be monitored three times a day, and they're about to take me off. And my nurse and I looked at the monitor and I said, did his heart rate just go down with that contraction? And the doctor was like, this is the last straw. It's time to deliver this baby. They start the procedure.

It takes a while because I have some other issues from previous C-sections. And he's born screaming. We both just start sobbing. Like we have no idea what's going on, but at least he's breathing. And you can hear them being like, this is a miracle baby. This is a miracle baby.

Placenta abruptions don't stop for three weeks. We feel God was like, I'm going to make this placenta abrupt for a little bit and stop it. So you'll feel the weight of your mortality and your son's mortality, but I'm not going to let you die today. Wow. I mean, I feel like I'm there.

I want to just cry with you and I see you wiping your tears, Courtney. That's intense. Yeah, it was intense. It was really intense. And my older children still remember it. Do they?

Yeah, they do. We've been talking earlier about just what that was like for you and how the Psalms have ministered to you. And that really did prompt you to write this book.

And even coming out of that, I love that you wrote feelings that you were experiencing when you felt let down. You talked about Psalm 55. Another chapter in your book is when you felt despair. And then you talked about Psalm 88, forsaken, in pain, worthless. Like, I'm hearing this and I'm thinking, yes, God's Word relates to every one of those feelings.

So what jumped out to you initially? Give us a walk through one of the Psalms that God really used to help you feel, but to also minister to you. I had hoped that by spending all that time in the Psalms for all those three weeks, that when the moment of crisis came, that I would then remember everything I had read. Or at least that something would say not to me that I would display maybe resolute faith or that I would somehow, I don't know, have like a glowing face. I don't know. You're thinking all this scripture is going to come to your mind.

It's going to just flow out of me because I've been pouring it into me. Of course, it's going to come out in a moment of crisis. And people think like this. I think I wouldn't respond that way in a crisis. Well, you actually don't know how you're going to respond in a crisis until you're in the crisis. And so in the moment, I literally couldn't remember anything that I had read. If you had said, like, tell me something you've learned in the last three weeks, I would have been like, I don't remember anything. But I could remember Psalm 23.

And I remember in the moment thinking, this is a sign of weakness and failure. Everybody knows Psalm 23. Like, I was in high school in the 90s. And so I remember Gangster's Paradise, which talks about like Psalm 23. I'm like, everybody knows Psalm 23. Like even rap songs have Psalm 23 in it. So like, I, and here I am thinking. That's all you can remember.

It's Psalm 23. You felt lame. I felt lame. I felt like a weakling.

Because you're a Bible scholar and teacher. Right. And I didn't have any words to remember in that moment.

Because I remember hearing people like, like John Piper, like can remember to recite all the scripture when he's in like a cancer ward. And I'm like, I don't have anything. That's reassuring for many of us.

Right. In the moment, it was, it was a crisis. It was really intense. And I was like on the border of a panic attack. So there were a lot of things going on in that moment. And for me, what was helpful later on was realizing that it wasn't a sign of failure. It was a sign of kindness of the Lord.

That He was not even making me dig deep for anything. He was just showing me Psalm 23 is scripture too. It's just well known. It's not like, you know. I listen to you and I think, oh, it's almost like God took all the other scripture out because He wanted you to sit in Psalm 23.

He did. And I did sit in it and was really comforted by it. So, but I'm happy to walk through it if you want to. So Psalm 23, the Lord is my shepherd. I have what I need. He lets me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life. He leads me along the right paths for His name's sake. Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live. Like you said, it's so familiar. But again, hearing that, it is so powerful. It is, it is. Those words are loaded with meaning. I'm thinking of a listener, talk to the listener who is in that valley for whatever reason.

And they're just, they're struggling. What is God saying through this Psalm? And also, Courtney, why does that make you feel so much when you're reading it? Yeah. I mean, I don't know exactly why scripture makes me cry when I read it.

I don't know. But I think for me, a lot of it is I've experienced this Psalm. Like, and I mean, Psalms are poetry. So even if you think of like a song, even a song that's not about the Lord, a good song, a good lyric does make us feel like we're, we're feeling beings. God created us with emotions. Like He could have created us emotionless and He didn't. He created us with emotions. And as image bearers, we were created to feel, God feels as well. Like when you see when Jesus was on the earth, He felt. And so this is not, it's not wrong to feel.

It's good to feel. But as a, as a Christian, we want to harness our feelings rightly in a way that honors the Lord. But in this Psalm, when you think of Lord is my shepherd, immediately go to John 10 with He's the good shepherd.

And in the context of John 10, it's right after John 9, where the man born blind is healed and then kicked out of the synagogue for basically being healed by Jesus. Here, Jesus says, I'm the good shepherd. I'm the shepherd who doesn't leave you. I'm the shepherd who doesn't devour the sheep. I'm the shepherd who always cares for the sheep. And so the sheep know my voice. Yes, they know him and they hear him and they're cared for by him. And for the person who maybe feels abandoned by someone or who feels like they've been taken advantage of by bad shepherds, the good shepherd is so comforting because you think of like shepherds is sheep are so vulnerable.

They just don't desperately need the shepherd to take care of everything for them. And he'll leave the 99 to go find the one. Yes.

Yeah. So and then I have what I need. He lets me lie down in green pastures.

He leaves me beside quiet waters. Like he's taking care of everything that we need. And so often, especially in the midst of suffering, it feels like what we're experiencing is not what we need, that we have this tremendous lack.

And what the Psalmist is saying, what David is saying is you have everything you need. Think about COVID. Right.

That's a good reminder. Right. Yeah. And what COVID has brought to everyone is there are people who are suffering deeply prior to COVID. And so that suffering was only made exponentially worse by COVID.

Right. But what COVID has done is made us all sufferers because everyone has a story of some form of loss this year, whether it's the loss of expectations, the loss of a job, the loss of maybe a marital relationship, because it's been really hard. And then there's like the real tremendous loss of people being hospitalized and being alone, people dying alone.

So I think all of us are sufferers now. And what Psalm 23 helps us with is we still have everything we need. We still have a good shepherd. We still have the shepherd who is leading us beside green pastures and still waters and nourishing us and caring for us, even when what we're looking at with our eyes doesn't feel like green pastures and still waters.

It feels really chaotic and hard. And one of the things in verse four of Psalm 23, even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger. And a dark valley is dangerous, but it's saying I don't fear the danger. It's not saying that we're not going to be in suffering. It just says that I don't fear what it is because I have a good shepherd who's with me.

I love that because one of the versions says, for your close beside me. Yes. Yes. I think about our grandson who is just really fearful of the dark right now. Right. And he feels totally safe when his dad is beside him. Yes.

Yes. And that's for us, too. We could be going through anything, but when we have Jesus or the Father walking beside us, it gives us a little more courage. Some people know this, but I actually was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the middle of COVID. I had to have a hysterectomy very quickly after it was a really it was a really long and quick crisis, but I had to go to all my appointments alone because it was COVID. And so, like, my husband never met my oncologist. He couldn't be in the hospital with me. I had to have a hysterectomy by myself in the hospital.

He had to wait in the car, and I'd spend the night in the hospital. But when I had my PET scan, I remember they tell you with a PET scan, like, to be calm while you're waiting for the guy to go through. And so I was like, I don't know how you can be calm. Like, I'm like, like, so I listened to music.

Some people had sent me a playlist, a friend made me a playlist, and so I was listening to some music. And it was one of those moments where I've been in medical crisis before, but this is the only moment where Daniel could not be with me. Like, he's been by my side for everything that we've gone through.

And this is one of those moments where, like, he could not be in the PET scan room with me, he could not be in the OR waiting room with me, none of those things. And I sensed so clearly that the Lord was with me, like Psalm 46, one, like, you're a very present help in times of trouble. And I remember thinking, I don't ever want to forget that the Lord showed up in a way, like, I'm not super, like, I feel the Lord type of person. But I knew in that moment where he was like, I am not leaving you here.

Nobody else can be with you, but no one can stop me from being with you. And that was just incredibly comforting. It just reminds me of John 14, where I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you. And He has come to us in the Holy Spirit and that forever and always, if you're trusting in Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit residing inside of us so that we are never alone.

And even when we're in the darkest valley, He is with us. I had a situation very similar to that. I was having an MRI, checking for cancer. And it's so traumatic for your soul. You can be so gripped by fear and anxiety.

And I'm thinking of listeners who have gone through so many circumstances where they're just gripped with fear and anxiety. And I can remember, you know, I have my head in this thing and the noise is so loud and it's banging. And I can remember thinking, I'm just going to go to another place with Jesus. And I pictured Psalm 23. And I pictured myself walking beside a stream with Jesus in this green valley. And that helped me.

I mean, and it's also scripture. It's almost like I went to another place in my head because this place was too traumatic. She always goes visual. I do go visual. She sees it. Yeah. It's like she's seeing Psalm 23 come alive. We can use our imaginations for really terrible things.

Why wouldn't we use it to picture Jesus? That's so helpful. Yeah, absolutely.

Yeah. What I love as you were talking about being with Jesus is that anything that I experienced pales in comparison to what He's already done for me at the cross. I can rest in assurance that He is for me. I'm just thinking of the truth of, I will fear no evil for you are with me.

That truth, and you know, He writes, comforts me. I'm thinking of, you know, as an NFL chaplain for 33 seasons with the Lions, there were many situations where I would be one of the first people on the field to a player who just got injured. And the different responses in that moment by players, I can remember Kevin Glover breaking his leg. He knew, snapped during a playoff game. And by the way, the Lions weren't in very many playoff games, this is a long time ago, but walking over to him on the field in Tampa and he just literally had a smile on his face and he wasn't happy, but he's like, okay, Lord's in control, I'm done, but He's got me. And walking over the other guys who are yelling and cussing and screaming because this is their whole world. They have no sense there's a God with them. What a difference. You know, whether it's in a hospital room or in your marriage, whatever, to know that you can be comforted by the truth of what the Psalmist is writing here, you are with me.

Keep going. Yeah, this is good. One of the things that's also helpful is when you see your rod and your staff, they comfort me. And the rod being like the staff, like guiding us, but then also the rod is discipline. So even the discipline of the Lord, not like punishment, suffering comes into our life as a way to harness us and discipline us. To shape us. And to shape us.

Yeah. And that to be able to say that it comforts us. I can say that on things on the back end and say, I can see what the Lord has done in that. But I want to be able to say that this suffering that the Lord has brought into my life doesn't feel good.

And in the grand scheme of things, it is going to work out for good. But I want to be able to say that I know that it's a comfort when I'm experiencing suffering. It's not a sign that he's against me. It's a sign that he's for me because he's conforming me more to the image of Christ. And then I love verse six, only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live. And I love that only goodness, because again, in suffering, it doesn't feel like goodness and faithful love. It feels like death. It feels like when I was diagnosed with cancer, it felt like God was kicking us while we were down. I'm like, COVID? Really?

You're going to give me cancer too in the midst of COVID? It felt like he was kicking us while we were down. So stop right there. A lot of people feel that. Yes. At different times in their lives where they're mad at God.

They're blaming God. They're like, really? Yes. Really?

Yes. Like, how do you deal with that? And I think you're honest about it. The worst thing you can do is to not be honest about how you're feeling, because the Lord is, he knows what you're feeling anyway.

So it doesn't do any good to pretend like you're trusting when you're not. So I think being honest about that feeling and working that feeling out, and I prayed that to the Lord. I talked about it to my husband and I also told the Lord, I feel like you're kicking us while we're down.

I feel like you have, that you are not with us and that you have forgotten us. You're writing a Psalm right then, right? Yeah.

Right. And one of the helpful things of processing through that is if you're pouring scripture into your life, eventually those things do work themselves out. It just sometimes takes time. By God's grace, I was able to get to a point where I realized he wasn't kicking us while we were down. He was showing up and he showed up in a number of ways of having people help us and my parents were able to come down and there's a number of things to help. But I was honest.

I didn't stuff it down where I was trying to put on a good face for like everyone who is waiting to see how we were going to respond. And what's helpful, I always think of like Joseph too, is how Joseph at the end of Genesis says, what you meant for evil, God meant for good. And he said it at the end of his life.

I mean, he says it at the very end. And so we aren't given the process throughout all of what he endured and when you think of how long he endured injustice and suffering and difficulty before he ever saw any fruit from what was going on. And he could have been so bitter.

Yes, he could have been. Angry with his family. Yes, yes. Angry with God.

Yes. And the Lord worked in his life so he was able to have that perspective of that, yeah, you meant it for evil, but God intended it for good. And what the scriptures, I think sometimes we build a theology of trust based on the end result of what we see in the scriptures. But the scriptures don't tell us all the process that got to that point. We have to do a little bit of study to understand, well, that was maybe like 20, 30 years that that was going on.

Or that was like seven to 10 years if that was going on. And so when you think of the span of your life, you get diagnosed on a Monday and you've got to somehow have a resolution of trust by Friday, well, that doesn't always happen. The Christian life is hard and life is complex and people are really complex. And it sometimes, I think if you're looking at even just counseling people and working through and just loving suffering people is giving them the breathing room to have those feelings that it's really hard and I don't feel like I trust right now.

Letting them feel honest in that moment and not getting to that quick, well, Job trusted too. You know, he said like, blessed be the name of the Lord. I mean, but the Bible can't be used like that.

It's not intended to be used like that. I'm thinking of talking to kids and to friends where there'll be suffering and there'll be lamenting. Like, I feel so forgotten. I feel like this is unjust and I have this habit of hating that they're in pain. And so I try to fix their pain.

Oh yeah, I do too. You know, okay, well God's word says, and I'm a pretty positive person and so I try to bounce them out of their negativity. And our one son will always say to me, Mom, let me just sit here in the pain of it. It's a good reminder for me to like, oh yeah, I don't need to fix him. That's God's job. I can just sit with him in it, put my hand on him, pray for him, understand and say it's got to be so hard.

And yet there is something that happens, I'm guessing you agree with me, when you do go vertical. When you're in the pain, you're in the struggle and the Psalms often do that. It's like even Psalm 73, we're not going to walk through it, but you know, I've said it many times, why does the evil prosper?

Why do bad people get good things? And you know, the Psalmist is, for most of that Psalm, saying what we're all thinking. And then you get to, and then I went into the sanctuary and it's like, oh, when my eyes went vertical and then I got a different perspective. And I think that's what your book does. That's what the Psalms do is when you say, God, I want your perspective. You read people going, oh, they're complaining too, but here comes, you are with me.

You've got this. God is my refuge and strength and time of trouble. It's such a good reminder that we can literally lift our chin and go, okay, I'm going to walk into this year, walk into this marriage, walk into this hospital room, walk into this, you know, test and know that God is with me and that's all I need to know.

I don't know what's going to happen, but I know he's with me and that is enough. I think for all of us, emotions can be sometimes confusing. Sometimes they blindside us. They come out of nowhere. We think, where did that come from?

Is this even right or appropriate? Am I sinning by feeling the way I feel? And I think this conversation between Dave and Ann Wilson and Courtney Rice has been so helpful as we look together at the book of Psalms and see that God's word tells us that we can bring our emotions to God. Emotions are not bad. They're given to us from God. We just need to know what to do with them when we feel them.

And some of us need to know how to feel them more deeply. Courtney has written a book called Teach Me to Feel. It's a book we've got in our Family Life Today Resource Center. It's available online at familylifetoday.com or you can call to order your copy. Our number is 1-800-FL-TODAY.

Again the title of Courtney's book is Teach Me to Feel. Order it from us online at familylifetoday.com or call to order 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Now we're excited about four events that are taking place this weekend. We want to ask you to be praying with us for couples who will be attending Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaways in Cleveland, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Delray Beach, Florida, and Little Rock, Arkansas this weekend. We had to shut down Weekends to Remember back in March of 2020 and since that time we've only had a handful of events. That's one of the reasons we're excited that we're able to have these events now and that couples are coming out to spend a weekend with us to strengthen their marriage. David Robbins, the president of Family Life, is here with us and David, our listeners need to know that even though conferences had to be shut down for a season, a lot of ongoing ministry has continued to happen here at Family Life. Yeah, I've gotten a little sentimental looking back and reflecting as I keep getting appointments landing in November and December now on my calendar. It just makes me think back to the last 18 months and in a lot of ways, a lot of things for people have been frozen or on hold. In particular, ministry to marriages and families, there has not been a pause.

If anything, there's been greater needs and there's been some pretty cool acceleration of what's been happening. And as I reflect back, I just first want to say thank you for the ways you have come around us as a ministry, for the ways you have given, for you legacy partners continuing to give month in and month out for many of your special gifts to keep us as a ministry moving and ministering to families in this critical time, and it allowed our ministry to be creative. And whether it's a dates to remember box, which that date box has helped thousands of couples carve out time to be intentional with their marriage around God's Word. There was a virtual cruise we did.

Who knows? You could have a cruise without a boat. And over 10,000 couples in Latin America have gone through the vertical marriage small group through a Zoom small group. And those are just tip of the iceberg. God has been on the move in some powerful ways, and I just want to say thank you for the ways you have given in order to keep ministry going strong and being created to keep pursuing our mission and our vision of every home, a godly home. Yeah, the last year and a half has been so critical for so many couples and so many families and people have continued turning to us for help and hope. And because of listeners like you who donate to this ministry, we've been able to be here providing that ongoing hope and help. So thank you, David, thank you for being here with us. And again, join us in prayer for the Weekend to Remember Getaways that are happening this weekend. And I hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend. And I hope you can join us on Monday when we're going to talk about screen time. If you don't think the amount of time you're spending looking at a screen is having an impact on your marriage and your family, your relationships, then you're just not paying attention. David Murrow is going to join us to talk about how all of us are drowning in screen time and what we should do about that. So I hope you can tune in for that. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Bob Lapine. We will see you on Monday for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-29 21:32:49 / 2023-07-29 21:45:30 / 13

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