Psalm for the Day: Psalm 31:9-10
9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye wastes away from grief,
my soul and body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my misery,
and my bones waste away.
It’s no secret that these are distressing times we find ourselves in. We are in a season fraught with fear and uncertainty, and it is bringing a lot of different feelings and reactions to the surface for all of us. In Psalm 31:9-10, David is in a similar season of distress. He uses disturbing imagery to express the depths of his sorrow to God – eyes, body, and soul wasting away from grief, life spend with sorrow, years filled with sighing, strength failing, bones wasting away. David’s words here don’t exactly inspire hope in a trying time. Or do they?
Perhaps my favorite thing about David is his honest expression of emotion. I’ve always really appreciated the truthfulness with which he talks to God about his feelings. David was not afraid to lament. He regularly expressed sorrow, anger, and sincerely felt grief to God. Sure, there are many songs of praise in the Psalter, but equally important are the psalms of lament. When we lament, we talk openly with God about our pain. We don’t shy away from sadness, fear, or confusion – we say it. We own it. We trust God with it.
Because here is what’s beautiful – we don’t have to pick between voicing praise or sorrow. God listens to both. It is not a faithless act to lament. In fact, sometimes the most genuine expression of faith is being real with God about how we’re feeling and what we’re going through. It is not an indictment on our belief in God when we’re honest about how we feel, even when those feelings are hard. What’s more is that, inevitably, lamenting leads to the transformation of our sorrow. It points us back to the truth that God is steadfast and trustworthy; that God is abundantly good and a safe shelter for those in need of refuge. It expresses a hope that God cares about our cares and is close at hand, listening to us. Lamenting doesn’t end in pain – it guides us through our pain and into healing.
Later in this same Psalm, David writes that God hears the voices of God’s people when we cry out. So, if you need to tell God that you’re sad – do it. If you need to get some fears off of your chest – do it. If you’re confused or angry – say it. Friends, here is the good news: our voices are heard. We are not left alone. God is listening. So, cry out if you need to, and let the transformation from sorrow to healing begin. Amen.When I need an extra measure of peace, a song I often turn to is “I Love the Lord” by Page CXVI. May it be a balm for you as it always is for me.