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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 22:1–15

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
   Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
   and by night, but find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
   enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
   they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
   in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm, and not human;
   scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
   they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
“Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
   let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”

Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
   you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
On you I was cast from my birth,
   and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
   for trouble is near
   and there is no one to help.

Many bulls encircle me,
   strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
   like a ravening and roaring lion.

I am poured out like water,
   and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
   it is melted within my breast;
my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
   and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
   you lay me in the dust of death. (NRSV)

When I read this psalm, it seems to me that David is having an argument with himself. He spends a few verses bemoaning his state, then remembers the good things that God has done in the past. He goes back and forth like this throughout the passage we have today, ending in what seems very close to despair.

We all do this sometimes, don’t we? If we are going through a particularly difficult time, we often follow this pattern. We go over the dire nature of our situation, then try to look for ways in which we can feel hopeful or for a solution to our difficulties. Sometimes it seems as though we are arguing with ourselves.

This psalm offers us reassurance: we are not unique when we feel alone or abandoned. And then it offers us an approach to dealing with those feelings, a way out of our despair. In verse 11, David says, “Be not far from me.” In the verses that follow this passage, he goes on to praise the Lord for his faithfulness. By turning to the one who made him, David finds his source of hope. No one else can save or protect him, only his creator can. This is the message for us. We can’t solve our problems by arguing with ourselves or with God. We can’t use logic or reason to find our way out of whatever darkness we may feel surrounds us. Only by relying on God will we find solace.

Dear Creator of the world and all that is in it, help me to trust in you for my protection. Thank you for your love for me and for this world. Teach me to react with faith and praise when faced with life’s challenges. Amen.

Written by Juli Crabtree, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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