From the depths of the of the belly…
From the Depths of Isolation I cry…
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. 11 I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. 12 I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. 13 For I hear the whispering of many– terror all around!– as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. 14 But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” 15 My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. 16 Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.
Upon reading the above excerpt from Psalm 31, I must admit that it sounds like a person who is having a mental break down, and I asked myself what I would do if a friend of mine confided that this is how they were feeling. How would I help them? But then I also had to admit there have been times I have felt this way in some capacity, and I am betting we each have felt this way at some point. Rejected. Isolated. Broken. And we can deny the presence of this type of brokenness all we want but I know of at least one time in the life of most people where this happens all too frequently. Middle School.
Now, I don’t know what your middle school life was like, but I do know some middle school kids, a lot of them, who feel isolated and outcast from the larger population because they don’t meet the standard of group thinking. They feel like they are the broken vessel from verse 12. They feel like everyone is talking about them and people do walk around them, push over them, and treat them less than nothing, getting pushed and shoved in hallways. They suffer with silent screams, cry and lament just like the psalmist because they are rejected for no other reason than they don’t meet those unwritten standards. Middle school is tough stuff and it seems as if the only way to survive is to duck and cover, hide in the shadows, and just survive.
But, just surviving life is not fun. It is painful and heart wrenching. Using all of your energy just to make sure you can get through the day is exhausting. Our psalmist however doesn’t conclude there. The psalmist doesn’t stop with the “I am just surviving” song repeating over and over in their mind. No, here is a measure of hope being offered, and while it seems small, that hope can grow, as the hope is attached to the very character of God, the Deliverer. The Savior. It starts as a measure of trust but grows to a united relationship, as the psalmist invites God to be upon him. “Let your face shine upon your servant” This relationship deeps as the psalmist dwells in God’s steadfast love. “save me in your steadfast love.”
So what does this mean to those of us reading this psalm? Are we the ones crying out for God to relieve our sorrow? Or are with the ones who have endured the suffering through the love of God? If you are of the latter category what does it mean to you as a child of God to help those who you hear suffering? For God’s love dwells inside you, it lifts you up in times of sorrow and isolation. That is your hope. It is a love that abound beyond your possession and seeks to be out in the world helping others. How do you live to glorify that Love to the honor of God, as God honored your life and dweller within you?