The Psalms have an incredible ability to speak the emotions I am feeling. Time and again these ancient words have forged a path for me to express my feelings to God.
Psalm 130, one of the Psalms of Ascent (used during pilgrimage festivals as people approached the Temple in Jerusalem), is one that has helped me recently.
My family began extreme social distancing two weeks ago after our Spring Break plans to Spain were scuttled. At first, we tried to pivot to Plan B and go to the Alamo, but halfway there I realized I had forced my family to undertake a fools’ errand and we turned around. (You can hear the story here.)
For weeks we have watched COVID-19 explode across the globe. When the cases were in China or Europe, the risk still felt far away. But now there are cases where I live. As much as I want this virus to be something that is over there, up there, or just not here, that’s not reality.
We have barely left our home. We’ve made occasional, essential, grocery store runs. My husband and I have had to leave the house for work-related obligations two or three times. Other than that, we have been at home.
We are doing this as an act of love for our neighbors. We want to do everything we can to make sure we don’t contract or spread the virus.
Can I be honest with you? I don’t like social distancing. I’m an extrovert. I get energy from being with people. And for whatever reason, Zoom meetings just aren’t the same for me.
I like eating out. We haven’t eaten this many consecutive meals at home … ever.
I don’t like the inconvenience of this and I don’t like the continuing unknown nature of this situation. When will the virus run its course? When will it be safe to go to a restaurant again? When will I feel like I can spend time with people without being worried about contagion?
Right now, it feels like there’s no end in sight. And, I fully recognize that I have it easy!
So when the Psalmist says, “I cry out to you from the depths Lord,” I feel the comfort of knowing God has heard those words throughout human history.
As I moan, “Are you there God?” I know this is nothing new to God. The Psalmist says, “my Lord, listen to my voice! Let your ears pay close attention to my request for mercy!”
Open your ears and hear us, God!
The Psalmist is our guide. The Psalmist gives us permission to cry out to God from the depths.
Whatever I am feeling today, whatever I might feel in the days and weeks to come, the Psalmist shows me that God can handle it. In fact, the Psalmist gives me a reason to take comfort. At verse 5, the psalmist says: “I hope, Lord.”
I hope, Lord.
When things turn upside down, those words can become my breath prayer.[inhale] I hope. [exhale] Lord.
Nothing that has happened, or will happen, can take away my hope.[inhale] I hope. [exhale] Lord.
Just like Psalm 130 says, “my whole being hopes, and I wait for God’s promise. My whole being waits for my Lord—more than the night watch waits for morning; yes, more than the night watch waits for morning!”
Why is that? Because “faithful love is with the Lord; because great redemption is with our God.” (v. 7)
I have hope because God loves people faithfully.
I have hope because God hears our cries.
God redeems the Psalmist’s troubles and I have hope that God will redeem my troubles, too.
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