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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Scripture Reading: Psalm 88
O Lord, God of my salvation,
     when, at night, I cry out in your presence,
let my prayer come before you;
     incline your ear to my cry.

For my soul is full of troubles,
     and my life draws near to Sheol.
I am counted among those who go down to the Pit;
     I am like those who have no help,
like those forsaken among the dead,
     like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
     for they are cut off from your hand.
You have put me in the depths of the Pit,
     in the regions dark and deep.
Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
     and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah

You have caused my companions to shun me;
     you have made me a thing of horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
     my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call on you, O Lord;
     I spread out my hands to you.
Do you work wonders for the dead?
     Do the shades rise up to praise you? Selah
Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
     or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
Are your wonders known in the darkness,
     or your saving help in the land of forgetfulness?

But I, O Lord, cry out to you;
     in the morning my prayer comes before you.
O Lord, why do you cast me off?
     Why do you hide your face from me?
Wretched and close to death from my youth up,
     I suffer your terrors; I am desperate.
Your wrath has swept over me;
     your dread assaults destroy me.
They surround me like a flood all day long;
     from all sides they close in on me.
You have caused friend and neighbor to shun me;
     my companions are in darkness. (NRSV)

For me, it was space junk.

Psalm 88 is brutal, unrelenting in its despondency. The last verse? Where you expect “Thanks, God, I know you’re going to help me because that’s what you do” you get, “You’ve made my loved ones and companions distant. My only friend is darkness.”

This writer is in a bad way, and when I read it, all I can think is “Been there, done that.” We all have dark times, some so dark we wish for anything that would just make it all stop. For me, it was space junk. Things had gotten so bad and so bleak that I thought if a random piece of space junk were to reenter the atmosphere and hit me, well, that might be a merciful thing. At least it would make everything stop.

There’s no feel-good ending, no deliverance, no redemption here.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

It’s Jesus’ most human moment. Cut off and alone, asking “Why?” And while it’s easy to read “into your hands I commit my spirit” as a renewal of faith, I keep hearing “You take it. I quit. I’m just going to die now.” And that sentiment is not foreign to me.

Sometimes faith runs dry. But the good thing is that even when it does, God is there. We don’t “faith” God into existence. When it’s dark and black and we are alone and we can’t see anything, God is there. Sometimes you don’t just “snap out of it.” Faith doesn’t always make you feel better. Sometimes all it does is keep you moving, keep you from sitting down in the dark place and never getting out. And maybe that’s enough.

The author of this psalm is in a black place, but even in that darkness, this writer is still talking to God.

Dear Lord, the valley of the shadow is a lonely and fearful place. Give me faith enough to keep moving, and bring me back to the light. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Fine Arts Coordinator

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