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Lenten Daily Reflection 2021-04-01

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Psalm 142

I cry to the Lord with my voice; *
to the Lord I make loud supplication.

I pour out my complaint before him *
and tell him all my trouble.

When my spirit languishes within me, you know my path; *
in the way wherein I walk they have hidden a trap for me.

I look to my right hand and find no one who knows me; *
I have no place to flee to, and no one cares for me.

I cry out to you, O Lord; *
I say, "You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living."

Listen to my cry for help, for I have been brought very low; *
save me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.

Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your Name; *
when you have dealt bountifully with me,
the righteous will gather around me.

Sometimes scripture comes uncomfortably close. I get this one. You know? It resonated. I do cry to the Lord with my voice. I do pour out my complaint and tell him all my trouble. I can tell the psalmist has an active and healthy prayer life. You get a real sense that this person knows what it is like to be having an ongoing conversation with God.

The psalmist knows God is with them throughout their life, both at this moment when they feel they have nowhere to run to escape their life, and no one who cares for them. And when God deals bountifully with them and all the righteous will gather. To have that kind of deep confidence in God’s enduring presence, and be maintaining such a deep prayer conversation with God is really great.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel so good, warmed and embraced when I am praying and meditating. The way I feel I can best describe it to you is like being in a super cozy blanket. It’s this powerful feeling of safety and being surrounded by God’s love. Recently this feeling has been so grounding for me. I have really appreciated this feeling of being so surrounded by God especially at a time when much of my life feels chaotic and random.

Okay, but then, I am out in the world, often stumbling into a frustrating situation with my children or with the contractors at church and I am so far from that feeling of being surrounded by my cozy God’s love blanket! What happened? Do I just need to sit in a room by myself at all times to maintain that feeling of closeness to God? Or maybe the question is, I know God and feel God so clearly in my quiet prayers, but how do I keep feeling God when my child is having an insane fit about the way pants feel on her ankles and when the construction project has some unforeseen crisis? Because I feel dispirited and hopeless—not warm and fuzzy.

The psalmist reminds me though that there isn’t only one God feeling. It doesn’t have to be surrounded by blanket of warmth and love or nothing at all. The psalmist is feeling God when they’re in the midst of despair, loneliness, and frustration. The palmist isn’t like me, who just wants to be back in some perfect cozy surround, not in my real life feeling. The psalmist is frustrated and they say, “you are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” The psalmist doesn’t say “GOD! What do I do, my child is being irrational about pants and I just want to be away from this situation so we can be cozy together.” Nope. The psalmist is in all of the worldly struggles that we might have and in the midst of that, instead of wishing for some other way of being with God, is right with God right then. “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

This psalm reminds me that faith can feel many different ways, it can feel like that cozy blanket but it can also feel like “my spirit languishing within me.” And I am reminded that prayerful, and constant conversation with God like the palmist has can grow in me so that I too can have that same feeling of relief, “you are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” The palmist might not have started out with this kind of faith. By prayer, commitment to being steadfast with God and maybe even just life experiences, the psalmist (and you and I!) Can indeed grow our faith so that by and by, more and more, our refuge can be in God.