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Unite My Heart to Fear Your Name

14 March • Thursday of the Fourth Week in Lent

Psalm 86:1-17

1 Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me,

for I am poor and needy.

2 Preserve my life, for I am godly;

save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.

3 Be gracious to me, O Lord,

for to you do I cry all the day.

4 Gladden the soul of your servant,

for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,

abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.

6 Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;

listen to my plea for grace.

7 In the day of my trouble I call upon you,

for you answer me.

8 There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,

nor are there any works like yours.

9 All the nations you have made shall come

and worship before you, O Lord,

and shall glorify your name.

10 For you are great and do wondrous things;

you alone are God.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD,

that I may walk in your truth;

unite my heart to fear your name.

12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole


and I will glorify your name forever.

13 For great is your steadfast love toward me;

you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me;

a band of ruthless men seeks my life,

and they do not set you before them.

15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,

slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and


16 Turn to me and be gracious to me;

give your strength to your servant,

and save the son of your maidservant.

17 Show me a sign of your favor,

that those who hate me may see and be put to shame

because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.



We often speak of our conversion in these terms: we were sinners wallowing in our sins, we heard the gospel, we surrendered our lives to Jesus, and our lives were transformed. This is often the same story arc we hear from other Christians. All this is certainly true and underscores the power of Christ’s gospel. Yet, if we are not careful, our understanding of ‘transformation’, can be distorted by the aspirations of contemporary culture. That is, the cultural optimism we often see in a Disney movie—a belief that once a crisis is resolved, we will live ‘happily ever after’. When transposed to our Christian faith, we believe that once we are converted, our lives will be transformed and all will be blissful and well.

Yet, it doesn’t take long before we realise that this is far from the truth. The Christian life of discipleship is far from straightforward. Illnesses do happen, bringing much suffering and the sudden loss of loved ones. We still get backstabbed by colleagues, or even fellow Christians. Conflicts still happen at home. We all know of pastors and church leaders who lament that their children have left the faith. There is broken texture in our Christian life. Where, like the Psalmist, we find ourselves struggling. On the one hand, we do believe that God is ‘merciful and gracious’, and ‘abounding in steadfast love.’ On the other, we face troubles that really hurt—that make us feel ‘poor and needy’, where we fear that ‘insolent’ and ‘ruthless men’ (or circumstances) are assaulting us.

Paradoxically, this is when Psalm 86, can be very comforting. Not one instance does the Psalmist deny his troubles. Not one instance does he deny the pain he experiences. Despite all this, he holds on to God, trusting that He is ever merciful, gracious and will deliver him. All the while when his questions and struggles have yet to be addressed. This then is the Christian life to which we are called. May this Lenten season deepen our experience of this cruciform shape of our discipleship.



Dear Lord Jesus, as we reflect on Your sufferings for us on the road to Calvary, grant us the courage not to fret when we too experience Your sufferings in our own lives. Encourage us instead by Your Holy Spirit, that we may be comforted by Your presence as we journey through the ups and downs, the pleasures and pains of our lives. Amen.



Consider one struggle you may have in your life right now. Bring this before Jesus. Observe it with Him. Recognise that He is doing this with you in love. Ask for His grace to understand His will through all this. And for the courage and peace to persevere.

Dr Lai Pak Wah


Biblical Graduate School of Theology

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