A few months ago, some kind soul reading this blog recommended Reading the Psalms with Luther to me. Thank you.
It’s been a great resource for me. I’ve long heard people describe the Psalms as expressing every human emotion, giving God-pleasing words to even the most difficult life experiences.
I used to be mystified by the appeal of this. The Psalms struck me as a little excessive. I’m a great fan of keeping things in balance, especially emotions.
After the events of the last year or so, emotional balance escapes me, and now the Psalms feel exactly right. The Psalms of Lament--those that complain to God of deep sadness or anger--are almost spooky in how accurately they describe my feelings.
One of the things that confounds me about the current frustrations is that reconciliation escapes us. Multiple attempts to talk with the people who’ve hurt us have met with no success, no connection. I keep thinking of this: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). I appreciate how this admonition defines the limits of my responsibility -- as far as it depends on you. I cannot neutralize a toxic situation involving many people. I can contribute as much good juju as God grants me, and then pray for Him to give good juju to everyone else involved. So far, the supply seems to be insufficient.
Complaining to God helps. Reading the Psalms with Luther includes a short introductory explanation to each Psalm, and I skim for phrases that say things like “prayer ... of one imprisoned” (Psalm 142) or “the psalmist ... is nearly pressed to despair” (Psalm 143).
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.