Today’s psalm covers a wide range of emotions. The psalmist lays it all out there for God to hear. But the journey the psalmist takes through these verses is inspiring. When we cry out to God, our troubles do not get the last word.
1 Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you.
2 Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call.
3 For my days pass away like smoke,
and my bones burn like a furnace.
4 My heart is stricken and withered like grass;
I am too wasted to eat my bread.
5 Because of my loud groaning
my bones cling to my skin.
6 I am like an owl of the wilderness,
like a little owl of the waste places.
7 I lie awake;
I am like a lonely bird on the housetop.
8 All day long my enemies taunt me;
those who deride me use my name for a curse.
9 For I eat ashes like bread,
and mingle tears with my drink,
10 because of your indignation and anger;
for you have lifted me up and thrown me aside.
11 My days are like an evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.
12 But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
your name endures to all generations.
13 You will rise up and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to favor it;
the appointed time has come.
14 For your servants hold its stones dear,
and have pity on its dust.
15 The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
and all the kings of the earth your glory.
16 For the Lord will build up Zion;
he will appear in his glory.
17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute,
and will not despise their prayer.
18 Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord:
19 that he looked down from his holy height,
from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die;
21 so that the name of the Lord may be declared in Zion,
and his praise in Jerusalem,
22 when peoples gather together,
and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.
23 He has broken my strength in midcourse;
he has shortened my days.
24 “O my God,” I say, “do not take me away
at the midpoint of my life,
you whose years endure
throughout all generations.”
25 Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you endure;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You change them like clothing, and they pass away;
27 but you are the same, and your years have no end.
28 The children of your servants shall live secure;
their offspring shall be established in your presence.
We cry out to God
The psalmist begins by crying out to God from a place of deep despair and distress. He is begging to be heard, to be understood. There is a feeling of being tossed aside and ignored by God and others. So the psalmist petitions God for an audience.
Then he gives a list of his own personal limitations. He knows his time is short and his strength is insufficient. What I hear the psalmist wonder here is, “Will you hear me, God? Why should you listen?”
Have you had those moments? Have you lost sleep wondering if God would hear your prayers? When you cry out to God, do you believe God will answer? The psalmist’s list of personal trials and shortcomings is intense. He is sick, depressed, wandering, lost, bullied and left behind. Your list may be similar or entirely unique, so let’s consider what happens next.
And God hears
And then, my favorite part of any story: the turning point. The psalmist has shared how hopeless his situation is. Everything and everyone seem to have turned against him. But even in his hopelessness, God is still God. God is still powerful and just and compassionate! This is a great moment!
God’s power doesn’t automatically make the dark moments go away but when we look to God and recognize God’s sovereignty, our eyes are lifted about our troubles. This same idea is expressed in Psalm 121. When we cry out to God, God hears us.
Some situations make it especially difficult to lift our gaze to God. Personal loss, devastating diagnoses, dreams disappearing, whatever it might be for you. Starting in verse 19, we find the reason we know we can trust God during trials. First, God looked down and saw our distress. Next, God heard our cries for freedom as we were enslaved to sin. Then, God came to rescue us! God stepped down to our level and met with us to free us from our slavery. Finally, God established us as believers. We are secure in God’s presence. There will be times when it feels like danger or sin surround us, but in God’s presence, we are safe.
Our call to action
First, are you in a place where you can cry out to God? Do you feel comfortable being honest and bringing all of your tears and frustrations before God? This is an important step in deepening our relationship with God. If you aren’t there yet, pray for an open heart and the courage to be broken and humble in God’s presence.
It’s truly amazing to experience this kind of relationship with God. I find it incredible that God welcomes us to safety in the presence of the Trinity. And we could just revel in how life-changing it is for us. But this psalm gives us some marching orders as well. Verse 18 tells us to record what God has done so that those who are not even born yet may praise the Lord.
What has God in your life and who have you told about it? I believe that God wants to have a relationship with you and change your life. I also believe a part of our story with God is sharing that story. Think about who has helped your faith grow and then consider who you could offer that to as well. We are a family of faith because our stories are all intertwined. If nothing else, start writing down what God has done and is doing in your life so those not even born yet may praise the Lord.