Saturday, August 15, 2009

You, God, Lifted Me Out of the Depths – Psalm 30

I recall not wanting to wake up, just wanting to sleep. Every time I woke up the pain started again. This heart-wrenching pain was so raw and so acute it shot pangs of anxiety through me within the mix of chronic sleep deprivation and grief-induced depression.

Heaven help the person who grovels at the depths, for hell is no place for the human spirit. Once experienced it possibly leaves the possessor with a forever-changed perspective regarding one’s purpose in life and their ‘take’ on suffering. But, in the midst of the pain and torment we shriek the prayer, ‘God, lift me out of these depths!’

Psalm 30 concludes a string of psalms which speak of lament or plea for deliverance.[1] It’s a psalm or song for the sick and anguished. It speaks of the suffering psalmist as having once experienced, at separate times, both favour and derision from God. Only one thing matters; being freed from the torture that life has become.

He cries aloud to the Lord his God; will the dust praise him or proclaim his faithfulness? (Verse 9b) As if God would be swayed by these sentiments like we can twist his arm. Yet we express them in any event such is our one-track focus.

Yet, God does eventually relent. After our heart-rending trial God’s anger is revealed to have only lasted a moment; his favour, a lifetime (verse 5a).

I recall many a night weeping uncontrollably for an extended time, in my aloneness, crying myself to sleep. And I always found God’s sweet therapy in my contrite tears. By morning all would be good again--I woke able to function yet one more day. My hope was but an oily rag but it was sufficient. This is solid testimony for the truth in verse 5b, “weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (TNIV)

This psalm is sung in the past tense for the greater part. It’s a song of God’s faithfulness at the dedication of the temple. It speaks after the rabid distress, not so much in the middle of it.

As for me, life moved on rapidly. In my depths, as I look back now, was found to be a time when I truly got to know and accept myself. It was a time when I truly got to know and seek God. I was desperate for him and lost without him. And that’s the way it’s actually meant to be for us, all of us.

And this is the focus of this psalm--a plea to make all things right once again. At our depths, for the psalmist, and I, this could only be achieved through God. And nothing changes.

[1] Gerald H. Wilson, Psalms Volume 1 – The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2002), p. 514.

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