The Power of Hope to put the Heart at Rest
The Power of Hope to Put the Heart at Rest
I have a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. I might love them too much. There is something insanely satisfying to me about putting them on, flipping the switch, and having the outside background noise become still. They work because they produce a frequency that masks the constant noise around me.
We’re always looking for peace in our lives, but can’t find it because our hearts are always shifting allegiances. None of the things we set our shifting hearts on can cancel out the noise in our lives.
We keep thinking, “If only I just had the right salary, or the right spouse, or the right house, or the right job . . . then I will be satisfied.” We are always shifting, always searching, always fretting.
But Psalm 131 shows us that calm and quiet souls are possible.
“But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Derek Kidner writes: “The psalm emphasizes the word ‘weaned’, thereby drawing an analogy between the child which no longer frets for what it used to find indispensable, and the soul which has learned a comparable lesson.”1
When a nursing baby is awake and with their mother they are looking to nurse. They can’t be calm until they are being cared for by their mother in the only way that they feel they need. But a weaned child is able to be with his mother, content and satisfied, not just with what she can give him in the moment.
In order to still your heart, you must know and trust that there is someone stronger you can rest in. Your heart isn’t looking for something bigger and better, because you aren’t in control of God’s acceptance of you. You know he has chosen and accepted you in Christ alone.
In one word, you can have hope—hope tied to an anchor that goes into eternity with Christ. Not tied to shifting circumstances, but to Jesus, who forgives your sins and draws you near to God, who brings lasting peace. Romans 8:38–39 says, “For I am sure that neighbor death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
How do we do this? This psalm speaks to three types of people:
- The Workaholic
You think you don’t need rest. Sleep is overrated. You keep on going, not wanting to stop only to be exposed in your weakness. You can’t let anyone down.
Turn this prayer into a confession: “God, I’m trying to be you. I’m taking on myself what I cannot bear. I think everything keeps going only because of my hard work. But I am in control of very little. Forgive me. Help me learn to rest that you alone are God and I am not. Help me to sleep and trust in you who never sleeps. Show me I am a creature, not the creator.”
- The Worrier
You have a hard time calming all of the “what if’s” in your life. You have a hard time calming the back of your mind. You often are questioning why you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything, feeling out of control. Anxious thoughts bombard you first thing in the morning and you can’t keep them quiet.
Instead of listening to those thoughts, whisper truth to yourself. Take Psalm 42: “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” The answer: “Put your hope in God.” Use the psalms to whisper truth to your heart when anxiety is bellowing from the rooftops.
- The Weary
You’re weary because you’ve given up growing as a Christian. You are weary because maturity takes work, and you’ve begun looking elsewhere for rest and peace. You know the well-worn paths won’t satisfy, but it is so difficult to learn contentment. You are tempted to say, “Why bother?”
Hear the analogy David gives in the Psalm about the weaned child. Weaning involves struggle, but it is necessary to mature. Hear the continual call to hope in the Lord, to actively and continually seek and follow the one who brings hope. Keep pressing in. Don’t give up! Come to him. Change is possible.
“Hope in the Lord, from this time forth and forevermore.”
- Kidner, Derek. Psalms 73-150 Psalm 131:2 (TOTC Ps. 73–150)