Reader: “He will listen to the prayers of the destitute.”
Response: “He will not reject their pleas.”
Scripture: Psalm 102:1-17
Lord, hear my prayer!
Listen to my plea!
Don’t turn away from me
in my time of distress.
Bend down to listen,
and answer me quickly when I call to you.
For my days disappear like smoke,
and my bones burn like red-hot coals.
My heart is sick, withered like grass,
and I have lost my appetite.
Because of my groaning,
I am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like an owl in the desert,
like a little owl in a far-off wilderness.
I lie awake,
lonely as a solitary bird on the roof.
My enemies taunt me day after day.
They mock and curse me.
I eat ashes for food.
My tears run down into my drink
Because of your anger and wrath.
For you have picked me up and thrown me out.
My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows.
I am withering away like grass.
But you, O Lord, will sit on your throne forever.
Your fame will endure to every generation.
You will arise and have mercy on Jerusalem—
and now is the time to pity her,
now is the time you promised to help.
For your people love every stone in her walls
and cherish even the dust in her streets.
Then the nations will tremble before the Lord.
The kings of the earth will tremble before his glory.
For the Lord will rebuild Jerusalem.
He will appear in his glory.
He will listen to the prayers of the destitute.
He will not reject their pleas.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Throughout history there have been very difficult moments. The hymn in yesterday’s music was written at such a time. Though I’m writing this on April 1st, my guess is that the world may still be in a difficult time. I hope not. One of the beauties of the Scriptures is their full-throated embracing of reality, no sugar-coating faith. Today’s passage is known as one of the psalms of lament. Nothing is pretend in the psalmist’s confrontation with God. Unlike other religions, the God of the Bible welcomes genuine conversation with his children, even when they are angry at him or feel slighted. We never have to pretend all is well when praying to our Father. We need never fear being honest with God. Can you imagine? The psalmist tells God to “hurry up and answer when I call on you!” Any genuine, healthy relationship is always transparent. God expects such from his children. Part of the fear in a time of distress is not knowing when it will end. In this lament, God’s anger and wrath is blamed for the present predicament. “God is mad at me and has abandoned me.” This time of uncertainty and sense of lostness is the very moment when faith receives a call. Then we have the powerful three letter word, “But.” The psalm turns the corner when faith answers the call. God will remember; he will act to restore. Where the psalm began with “Listen to my plea . . .”, this portion ends with “He will listen to the prayers of the destitute. He will not reject their pleas.” Let this psalm be an encouragement to transparency in your prayer life with God. Relationships at arms length don’t work in earthly life, nor do they work in your prayer life with God. Be honest with God. It’s a quality of godliness. God’s not big on pretending.
Music: “Whom Shall I Fear” (The God of Angel Armies) David Wesley
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following
your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen
―The Road Ahead – Thomas Merton