The discipline of silent anguish

I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.” I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. (Psalm 39:1-2 ESV)

David restrained himself from saying anything that he would regret. Something here upset him so much that he probably wanted to lash back by yelling a bunch of mean words. But he chose to maintain his composure while anger and hurt burned inside his heart.

When he couldn’t take much more, he pleaded with God to deliver him from his transgressions. To assuage his urge to take action (possibly vengeance), he poured out his feelings in prayer. His motivation was not to sin. I don’t really think he cared much about that wicked person. Rather, his desire to not sin against God overruled his temptation to lash out.

So before I vent with someone else, maybe I should bring my grievances to the Lord. I know I have done this many times before, but I also failed because I needed human validation; I yearned for immediate reassurance that things would be okay.

That comes with significant risk because my words will be repeated to someone else. In this world, complete confidentiality does not exist. There is always a little gossip bird flying around town delivering today’s news. Hence, the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it at all.” Maybe this is God’s way of teaching me patience? I don’t like it; but okay, I will give this a try.

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