Reading this review of Lloyd-Jones’ Faith on Trial: Studies in Psalm 73 is getting me to think about spiritual discipline again. Here is an except:

The psalmist begins with the voice of hope and conviction, declaring to all that “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart”; but how did he get to this point of firm faith and reliance? Lloyd-Jones traces the steps of his spiritual journey, as he deals with a temptation so overwhelming that it had almost cast him down utterly. First, the very “bottom rung,” as Lloyd-Jones terms it, is simply the recognition that, if he spoke the bitter thoughts that he was feeling, he would give cause for offense to the children of God who were around him. It wasn’t much, but it was a foothold at least, a place to stop sliding, and to begin the long journey out of the pit of despair. In the same way, when we are overwhelmed with our troubles, it doesn’t matter so much how deep we go, or how discouraged we become, just so long as we find a bottom rung, a place to pause, and consider.

After this first rung has been discovered, one step at a time, Lloyd-Jones analyzes the process by which the miserable psalmist regains his faith and hope, and remembers God’s unfailing faithfulness. Throughout, the writing is incisive and down-to-earth, and as the reader sees the spiritual wisdom and godly stratagems by which he realizes his wrong ways of thinking, repents, and learns to trust God for his character and steadfast (if sometimes veiled) mercy, he will likewise be instructed and emboldened to undertake the same spiritual journey from despair and confusion to the “nevertheless” of God’s abiding presence, even in the darkest of times.