Sunday, November 2, 2014

Psalm 102 (NKJV) ~ A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the Lord.

Sometimes, our sorrow is just too great ...

Hear my prayer, O Lord,
And let my cry come to You.
Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble;
Incline Your ear to me;
In the day that I call, answer me speedily.

Who among us doesn’t feel, despite all the promises to the contrary, that when our spirits are overwhelmed with trouble, God is far away—or at the least, is hiding His face from us?

For my days are consumed like smoke,
And my bones are burned like a hearth.
My heart is stricken and withered like grass,
So that I forget to eat my bread.
Because of the sound of my groaning
My bones cling to my skin.
I am like a pelican of the wilderness;
I am like an owl of the desert.
I lie awake,
And am like a sparrow alone on the housetop.

It’s easy to dismiss the terrible desolation and loneliness inherent in this kind of sorrow as overdramatic when it’s someone else struggling. I mean, we can see clearly from the outside that all is not in ruins, that they aren’t completely alone, that there is hope.

But...that’s from the outside. When we’re mired in the struggle ourselves, it’s a completely different matter. No amount of words from others can really assuage the sense of being overwhelmed by our troubles.

Sometimes, even knowing that God is still there and has a handle on it all, is not quite enough.

My enemies reproach me all day long;
Those who deride me swear an oath against me.
For I have eaten ashes like bread,
And mingled my drink with weeping,
10 Because of Your indignation and Your wrath;
For You have lifted me up and cast me away.
11 My days are like a shadow that lengthens,
And I wither away like grass.

It’s also easy to feel the whole world is against us, that indeed the trouble is not just God turning His back on us, but exercising His righteous anger against us—whether our wrong is real or imagined.

12 But You, O Lord, shall endure forever,
And the remembrance of Your name to all generations.
13 You will arise and have mercy on Zion;
For the time to favor her,
Yes, the set time, has come.
14 For Your servants take pleasure in her stones,
And show favor to her dust.
15 So the nations shall fear the name of the Lord,
And all the kings of the earth Your glory.
16 For the Lord shall build up Zion;
He shall appear in His glory.
17 He shall regard the prayer of the destitute,
And shall not despise their prayer.

And then, even in the middle of our severest sorrow, God gives us a glimpse of His enduring greatness, reminding us that a bigger plan is still in effect, still in motion. (Yes, I’ve written about this before. The Psalms themselves write about similar themes, over and over ... how can we not humble ourselves and take note?)

18 This will be written for the generation to come,
That a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.
19 For He looked down from the height of His sanctuary;
From heaven the Lord viewed the earth,
20 To hear the groaning of the prisoner,
To release those appointed to death,
21 To declare the name of the Lord in Zion,
And His praise in Jerusalem,
22 When the peoples are gathered together,
And the kingdoms, to serve the Lord.

As I wrote last week, He still knows, He still sees, those who are struggling under the weight of oppression, both from their own sin and the awfulness of others. The time for widespread deliverance may not be here yet, but He takes the time to remind us—even through words thousands of years old, penned by those who had no inkling of those of us who would come in their place. How amazing is that?

23 He weakened my strength in the way;
He shortened my days.
24 I said, “O my God,
Do not take me away in the midst of my days;
Your years are throughout all generations.
25 Of old You laid the foundation of the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
26 They will perish, but You will endure;
Yes, they will all grow old like a garment;
Like a cloak You will change them,
And they will be changed.
27 But You are the same,
And Your years will have no end.
28 The children of Your servants will continue,
And their descendants will be established before You.”

And so we can know, even if this current struggle or pain or trouble really is the one that will sweep over us and bury us forever under despair, God still lives, and rules. Even this earth and the heavens will perish—but not the Lord. And if indeed we carry some spark of the Eternal in us, we will outlast even the earth and heavens.

Regardless of how devastating the current trouble is. Regardless of the evil plans of men. The people of God endure.

Even when we’re sure we’re dying, we are ... undying.


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