Psalm 94:18-19

“When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”

Indoor rock climbing is one of my favorite extracurricular activities. The type of climbing I do is called bouldering which is a form of climbing that is performed on a 12’-15’ rock wall without the use of ropes or harnesses. The rocks vary in size depending on the difficulty of the route and sometimes the footholds are very small with less than an inch of ledge to balance on.

One time while attempting a more challenging route, I had worked my way up the wall to the point where only three hand holds remained before I would finish the route. Unfortunately, because of the way my body was positioned, I could not see my next foothold. Despite my best efforts, I could not secure my footing. I began to feel the dread of the fall that I knew was imminent at this point. My foot slipped, and I was immediately filled with defeat as I plummeted to the safety mat below me.

This very literal example of experiencing my foot slipping while rock climbing can be true of what life feels like sometimes. In my weakest moments, when hard circumstances threaten to sweep my feet out from under me, panic and fear overwhelm my heart and mind because I believe I might fall. When the psalmist iterates his thought in Psalm 94, “My foot slips,” it is as if to say, “I am now at the point of utter destruction.” Yet that is not the end of his story, for he then states that “your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.” This steadfast love is a sure and unwavering loving kindness experienced when God sustains my feeble and flesh-ridden heart through the trials of life and everyday temptations that threaten to destroy me.

The psalmist also speaks of when “the cares of [his] heart are many.” I feel that these cares are the unspoken things of the heart – the worries and insecurities, the shame and guilt of the past, the deep wounds and sadness, fear of the unknown, the wrestling of our now, and longing for our not yet. But he expresses that God meets him in the midst of his distress and turmoil with consolations that cheer his soul. What are these consolations? Where do they come from? Consolation flows from the love of God and from the exceeding great and precious promises of the Gospel. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 calls God, “the God of all comfort,” and John 14:26 speaks of the Spirit as the Comforter or Helper that the Father sent to teach us and help us remember what Christ has said. This Divine Comfort replaces distress and sorrow with unspeakable joy and delight in the things true about Christ and the things true about me.

Lord, when failure feels imminent, when we feel crushed by the weight of our sin, incapacitated by anxiety, and overwhelmed by unmet expectation and disappointment, then comes your almighty interposition. God, it is in these moments when the enemy’s attack is foiled as your loving and unseen hand holds us up. When our souls are distressed and our hearts are wrecked by the circumstances of life, thank you for being our Eternal Comforter who willingly meets us in the most broken parts and brings peace and joy. Please come now and uplift our spirits. Let your presence be the comfort of our souls. Amen.

– Janeen Hatt