Day 31: Psalm 102
Hear my prayer, Lord; let my cry for help come to you.
Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.
For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food.
In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.
All day long my enemies taunt me; those who rail against me use my name as a curse.
For I eat ashes as my food and mingle my drink with tears
because of your great wrath, for you have taken me up and thrown me aside.
My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass.
But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.
You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come.
For her stones are dear to your servants; her very dust moves them to pity.
The nations will fear the name of the Lord, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory.
He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.
Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
“The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.”
So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem
when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord.
In the course of my life[b] he broke my strength; he cut short my days.
So I said: "Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days; your years go on through all generations.
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded.
But you remain the same, and your years will never end.
The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you.”
Psalm 102 (NIV)
This Psalm is labeled as a prayer of the afflicted man. Afflicted is defined as “to distress with mental or bodily pain; trouble greatly or grievously.” The author of this Psalm uses great description to share his pain and trouble. There is no question that this person is going through a very difficult time. It could be a personal conflict, or he could be lamenting for the sake of his own people. It may even be both. What we do know is that whatever he is going through, he has lost the desire to eat and feels attacked without reprieve (vv. 4-5, 7). Yet, despite the very vivid imagery of his pain and suffering, he still declares the greatness of God and proclaims the Truth that God is on the throne and that He will show compassion to His people (vv. 12-13).
Have you ever watched a child, family member, or friend struggle with something to the point that it consumes them? Even though they are struggling, they do not share the struggle with you. You watch them suffer, wanting to help them because you love them, but they will not allow you to pass the walls or barriers that they hide behind. They will not open up. It is heartbreaking and frustrating at the same time. This Psalm is a reminder that God wants us to share with Him, the good, the bad, and the ugly of our lives. He is watching you, His child, struggle and He wants to be there for you. Let it out - the hurt, the pain, the anger from whatever you are facing. He wants you to share; He wants to be there. He wants that intimacy that sharing pain and suffering with another creates. Like the Psalmist, you may not immediately feel His presence (v. 2). You may even feel as if He has turned His back to you, but this is where you step out in faith (vv. 6, 10). Cling to the promises He has given us in His word to always be there (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5…just to name a few). He is there even when we do not feel Him or when it appears He has turned away (vv. 19-20).
The Psalmist draws comfort in reminding himself that despite the darkness all around, God is still there. He will give mercy to His people (v. 13). He will hear their cries (v. 17). Though the world may fade away, He will still remain (v. 12). He uses these promises to draw strength and to continue on through the journey.
Lay your heart out to God. Embrace the freedom that we have to share with God everything, even our frustrations and our brokenness. Maybe you personally are in a good place, but I know our own community and country could use a prayer such as this Psalm. Draw strength from His promise to endure forever and to be the I AM over everything. Share with Him the heart you have for His people and pray for His mercy in this time of Lent. May we rise from the ashes with the reassurance that He is God, our Father, who loves His children.