I knew going into these Psalms that more than half the book is filled with laments. And I've read through the Psalms in order before. They never seemed this bleak. What gives?
I think one of my major learns in experiencing these prayers, songs, and pleas is that my life is pretty decent.
I consider the metrics of my own lament: I complain, I fret, I avoid, I'm defensive. I speak and act insecure. I pace while talking to myself. I'm sure after this reading that David must have done the same. I realize David (and others) knew real suffering in a way I don't come close to.
This has not made me feel guilty. It has made me feel hopeful.
Is there anyone around to save Israel?
Yes. God is around; God turns life around.
Read the first 6 verses of Psalm 14. Harsh stuff! Painful stuff. Bleak-fest. And David has the guts to end with this: "Yes. God is around; God turns life around."
Tonight we had a tough bedtime routine. Kicking and screaming were involved. Tears and tantrums were present. A mom and a dad doubted themselves. We have had a lot of those lately. And a lot of doubt, too.
So here's the deal: If a rough bedtime can mess with two well-adjusted(ish) adults so much, it makes me realize just how tough the rest of actual problems are. Refugees, shootings, racial divides, political mayhem, economic crises, and the list goes on. In the midst of all this, it worries me that I can get knocked on my butt by a 3 year old.
This is why even the dark, painful, broken Psalms fill me with hope. David feared for his life often. He had real and present enemies. He had problems that make my problems look like a cake walk.
And he sang and prayed, "Yes. God is around; God turns life around."
Not, "Gee, God. I hope you're around. I hope you help soon. What gives?" He prayed as real and present as his problems were. God existed before his problems and God will exist long after those problems are a distant memory. God is around.
The next time I'm in the process of getting my butt kicked by the aforementioned or feeling dread while reading the news I want to remember this viscerally. God is around.
Father, may you turn life around in your way for your reasons. My prayer is just that we play a small role and serve you in it. To you be the glory. Amen.
I am in the process of reading a Psalm a day in The Message translation by Eugene Peterson. It is written personally and in a way that helps me see these Scriptures anew. A friend shared with me a method he uses for reading the Psalms.
1. Read the Psalm slowly in my head. Focus on understanding.
2. Read the Psalm audibly as a prayer to God.
3. Pray the same prayer in my own words. Make the Psalm my prayer for my life right now.
It has been a great exercise in speaking to God. I encourage you to try it!