Lord, have mercy, because I am in misery.
My eyes are weak from so much crying,
and my whole being is tired from grief.
My life is ending in sadness,
and my years are spent in crying.
My troubles are using up my strength,
and my bones are getting weaker.
Because of all my troubles, my enemies hate me,
and even my neighbors look down on me.
When my friends see me,
they are afraid and run.
I am like a piece of a broken pot.
I am forgotten as if I were dead.
I have heard many insults.
Terror is all around me.
They make plans against me
and want to kill me.
Lord, I trust you.
I have said, “You are my God.”
My life is in your hands.
Save me from my enemies
and from those who are chasing me.
Show your kindness to me, your servant.
Save me because of your love. (NCV)
None of us signed-up for suffering. Yet, not a one of us can avoid it. Pain comes in all kinds of forms – and perhaps the worst kind of wound is the one inflicted from others looking down at you when you’re already experiencing trouble and damaged emotions. Whether it is a group of people, such as Asians facing ridicule and anger because of COVID-19, or COVID-19 patients themselves who sometimes become a pariah, the physical effects of pain can oftentimes be secondary to the primary hurt experienced within the spirit.
David of old knew first-hand about suffering through hard circumstances. There were times when he felt completely overwhelmed by wicked people trying to take his life. If we could put ourselves in David’s sandals, we can understand why he was worn-out to the point of not sleeping, not eating well, even with a hint of paranoia. David entrusted himself to God, and truly believed he was in the Lord’s hands – and that fact was his go-to truth.
Jesus uttered his last words on the cruel cross from this very psalm: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). The cross was obviously a place of extreme bodily pain. That pain, however, was dwarfed by the great spiritual pain of holding the entire world’s hurts, their curse of separation. The stress of both body and soul must have been crushing for Jesus. Yet, there was a strength of assurance smack in the middle of that pain – the confidence of knowing he was in good hands, just like David’s confidence a millennium before.
There are times when we all struggle with why afflictions happen to us, whatever form they might take in us. It is in such times of being forgotten by others that we are most remembered by God; it is in the situations of trouble that God is the expert in deliverance; it is when people revile us, say terrible things about us, and talk behind our backs that God comes alongside and whispers his grace and steadfast love to us. It is when life is downright hard that we see a soft-hearted God standing to help us and hold us.
While we are feeling our suffering, God is carefully crafting within us resilience through the rejection, empathy in our loneliness, purpose because of the trauma, forgiveness out of the shame, courage from having been failed, and self-awareness in the wake of emotional devastation.
The biblical psalms are the consummate place to run to when we are most in need. They provide the means to lift heartfelt prayers when our own words fail us. The psalms give us structure and meaning when the world around us makes no sense. The psalms do not always give us answers to our most vexing questions; they do, however, point us to the God who is attentive to the least, the lost, and the lonely.
Lord, have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord, have mercy on us and grant us your peace. Amen.
Click It Is Well with My Soul sung by Anthem Lights and be reminded that we neither bear our sufferings alone, nor needlessly.