Finding Solace Through Desperation, Faith, and the Promise of Joy in Psalm 16

June 10, 2024

{Pictured is Amy, in the middle, with her sisters}

“I trust you to protect me.”

This is a note I wrote in my Bible right at the beginning of Psalm 16, next to a date stamp: 2018. At that time in my life, I was experiencing depression and anxiety that left me exhausted, sick, and desperate. I was a freshman in college and lonely, feeling isolated from my peers and friends and unable to perform the way I was expected to in my degree program. I realized that I had relied on affirmation, achievements, and relationships to find comfort and solace. When that felt stripped away from me, I was lost, vulnerable, and fragile.

As difficult as that time was for me, I spent more time in Scripture than ever before. Reading the Bible was the only thing that brought me comfort. God drew me to him as I studied. During this time, I returned to Psalms 16 often. I read, “I have no good apart from you” and thought, “Oh Lord, help me to believe that this is true.”

Verses 5 and 6 say, “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

This is admittedly not how I felt approaching the throne. I certainly felt that there were more pleasant places where the lines could have fallen for me. But this psalm is full of active language. David chooses to take refuge in God, to make him his Lord, and to set the Lord always before him.

The truth is that my self-focused, anxious heart has been corrected by this chapter over and over again, not just in the throes of that year. The Lord has repeatedly used this chapter to convict, guide, comfort, and love me; to show me that as I choose him to be my satisfaction and my portion, he will guide my steps and hold my future in his palm. As he actively leads, I must actively follow. As I make the Lord my chosen portion, my eyes will be open to see my beautiful inheritance. My beautiful, heavenly inheritance is not dependent on Amy resisting sadness or achieving the GPA she wanted or being in the same stage of life as her peers. It is the kind work of God in my heart and is dependent only on his goodness and my obedience.

The Psalm ends this way:

“I have set the Lord always before me;

because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.

For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,

or let your holy one see corruption.

You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Each time I read the close of this chapter, I long for the fullness of joy the psalmist is expressing. How kind of God to offer this joy to me, and to allow David’s words to touch me in 2018, in my desperation. I now have a habit of returning to this psalm each year on my birthday to center my heart on the goodness of God, to declare that I have set the Lord always before me and that I will dwell in him and experience fullness of joy as I anticipate my beautiful inheritance.

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