Anfechtung and the Hesed of God – Psalm 36

Do any of you ever struggle with a melancholy spirit and a gloomy state of mind that persistently plagues you? I do. Have you ever felt far from the Lord with no enthusiasm for God’s worship or God’s Word and the thought of serving others absolutely wearies you? I have.

This malaise can come upon all of us from time to time. The Reformer Martin Luther called it anfechtung. Carl Aurelius describes anfechtung like this:

  • “A restlessness of the heart which quite without tangible, psychical or physical cause suddenly disturbs the peace and the balance that support a person, it feels like an invasion from outside, like evil powers trying to rob one of what is most vital.”

Anfechtung is an assault on either the body, mind, or soul involving fear, conscience, sin, and/or guilt that always test your faith. It is all the doubts, turmoil, pains, despair, desolation, and desperation which invade the spirit of man.

Anfechtung is the essence of Christian living because “to believe means to live in constant contradiction to empirical reality and to entrust oneself to that which is hidden.”

Psalm 36 offers us a biblical antidote to anfechtung. It’s hesed… the tender mercies and loyal love of our great God and Savior. Thus, when you sense the unbridled, vicious assaults and oppression of the Evil One upon you, do three things:

Recall how great is the steadfast love of our LORD. It “extends to the heavens, [His] faithfulness to the clouds” (Psalm 36:5).

Ask the Lord to grant you grace to “take refuge in the shadow of [His] wings and recall “how precious” is His streadfast love (Psalm 36:7).

Pray for the LORD to continue revealing and pouring out into your heart [His] steadfast love (Psalm 36:10).

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