Do you find the life of faith monotonous or uneventful? Do you find yourself asking with the psalmist, “How long, O Lord?”
Psalm 90 is ascribed to Moses, the Man of God. He understood monotony and seeking to find God in the daily grind. After growing up in the lap of luxury, benefiting from the best education available in Egypt, Moses spent 40 years as a shepherd. And then he had a few weeks or months of excitement as he led Israel in the Great Exodus followed by another 40 years of wandering. Now he was a shepherd of a faithless people.
Moses understood something about remaining faithful in the monotony of literally wandering in circles.
Of course Moses met with God face to face on a regular basis. We don’t know much about his 40 years shepherding sheep, but we do know that he saw God in a burning bush–that’s far from ordinary. He must have enjoyed sweet communion with his God while he wandered those pasturelands.
We know that Moses met God face to face on Mt. Sinai and enjoyed regular direct communication. The people of Israel relied on Moses to hear from God.
As Christians we now have the same direct access to God. I fear sometimes we act like Old Testament believers who relied on a priest or other leader to seek God for them. Jesus left us with the Holy Spirit so that we may now approach the Father’s throne of grace anytime, 24/7.
Meeting with God face-to-face is anything but monotonous and boring.
But what do we do when we’re worn out?
Tenth Avenue North expresses well the agony of the grind and the hope we find in redemption in their song Worn.
Psalm 90 provides 5 helpful tips.
5 Ways to Find Joy in the Daily Grind
1. Learn to number your days (v4, 12)
Moses starts the psalm acknowledging the eternal nature of God. For God “a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past or as a watch in the night.”
In light of that, Moses prays for a heart of wisdom to number his days. After all, what we count as toilsome and a burden are like a blink of an eye to God.
If we live each day and moment as if there may not be a tomorrow, we will find much more contentment and joy. Our sensitivity and expectations will increase.
I wrote recently on the benefits of looking for 15 minute life-changing increments. Life can become boring when we assume we have endless years and decades before us. But what joy if we look for God’s fingerprints in our everyday lives!
May God give us a greater vision of Jesus. I love this rendition of Fairest Lord Jesus from Passion:
2. Pray for mercy (v 13)
When we lose sight of God’s gracious involvement in our lives and history, we often complain and become bitter. Moses understood something about waiting for decades. He spent 40 years wondering if the Egyptians would find him and bring him to justice for killing a man. 40 years of wondering if his life would ever amount to anything. 40 years of doing the same thing day after day. 40 years is a long time to wait, but I know missionaries who recognize that the fruit of their labor may not be felt for 40 years.
The lament of “how long” is legitimate, but what we do with our lament defines our faith. If we allow bitterness to grow, our faith will rot and become essentially ineffective. If instead our lament turns to prayers for mercy, a desire for intimate fellowship with our maker, we will find gladness even while we wait.
I love the Desert Song from Hillsongs’ singer Brooke Fraser. She describes well the life of prayer in desert times and times of plenty.
3. Find satisfaction in God’s love (v 14)
Where do you find satisfaction? Living in the Internet Age has created a constant dissatisfaction–we’re constantly looking for the next thing. As a marketer I know that companies are trying to create a sense of dissatisfaction in your life so that you’ll be ready to take action and hopefully make a purchase (from them). There’s something wrong with this equation.
The Gospel message reveals the unrivaled good news that God loves us so much he sent Jesus to make a once-for-all sacrifice so we might be restored to our right status as God’s children and heirs. We have full access rights to God’s immediate presence at every moment. If you want to be in on the action, there is no better place than watching God at work.
When we have wandering eyes, eyes that stray from God’s love, we will find ourselves falling away from our first love. That’s Satan’s design. He doesn’t want us to remain content or to find satisfaction in God’s love. He constantly works to make us dissatisfied.
How do we combat this? Think deeply about and constantly delight in God’s love, as we share that love with others and watch God’s love transform those around us.
John Piper has famously said,
“God is most glorified in us when
we are most satisfied in Him.”
When we are satisfied in God, we will indeed bring him glory. The song The Stand calls us to “stand in awe of the One who gave it all.”
4. Be glad for affliction (v 15)
The apostle James said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James echoed what Moses knew: affliction deepens and purifies our faith.
I also think affliction makes us appreciate more the suffering and sacrifice Jesus endured on our behalf. I often rehearse the Gospel message and am reminded of the greatness of God’s love in contrast to my weak faith. My circumstances, that once seemed insurmountable, become endurable as I reflect on what Jesus endured for me. I can cling to hope as I know God will ultimately prevail just as he prevailed at Calvary.
I love Tim Hughes song Here I Am to Worship, especially the line “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.” His sacrifice frees us to worship.
5. Continue working as you pray for God to establish the work (v 17)
The apostle Paul exhorted believers to never grow weary in doing good so that we might one day see the harvest (Gal. 6:9). The psalmist acknowledges that unless the Lord builds the house our labor is in vain (Ps. 127).
Moses ends his prayer by asking God’s favor to rest on his people and to establish our work. We never give up, even when circumstances seem to show that God has abandoned us. Instead we keep working faithfully praying for God to use our efforts–whether we see the fruit or not. That requires faith.
Moses waited 40 years, but God’s faithful remnant waited 400 years between the words of the prophet Malachi and the angels’ announcement of Jesus’ birth. They faithfully studied and proclaimed God’s word for ten generations.
We have a hard time waiting 40 minutes in a doctor’s office, but may God teach us to patiently wait for His movement while we faithfully do his will.
How do you face the daily grind?
Psalm 90 offers a number of remedies for the daily grind. I hope some of these insights help you the next time you’re wondering, “How long?”
Tell me about how you find joy in the daily grind below. I’d love to hear from you.