Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 69 whose speaker, not to make a pun, is in bad straits!

I am sunk in the abysmal swamp
    where there is no foothold;
I have reached the watery depths;
    the flood overwhelms me.

Psalm 69:3

This is painful stuff – the kind of desperate pain we find threaded throughout the psalms in the prayers of lament.

These laments follow a pattern:

  • a petition for God’s help
  • multiple repetitions of this plea
  • detailed descriptions of the suffering being endured
  • proclamations of the sufferer’s innocence
  • assurances of the sufferer’s goodness
  • and often, a list of suggestions about how God should solve the problem

So the prayer, at least mine, would go something like this:

  • Dear God, please help me get out of this mess!
  • Do something, please. I know you can do something!
  • I am being harassed and destroyed. Let me tell you all about it.!
  • And it’s not my fault- (well, not completely anyway)
  • I try to be a good person and look what happens anyway!
  • I still believe in you and pray that you take care of my persecutors
  • (By the way, here are some tips on how you might do that, God.)

All in all, such a lament is a really healthy prayer. If we pray it completely, we get to the “BUT” of the pictured verse – that place where we allow God to teach and change us.

When we pray like this, we do these things in God’s Presence:

  • recognize our pain and name it
  • admit that we need help
  • analyze what’s really at the root of our pain
  • acknowledge our part in causing the suffering
  • rehearse our vengeance until we have exhausted it
  • reclaim our faith as a way to healing
  • THEN allow God to convert us to the Love of which we are made

The psalmist has given us a gift by laying out such vulnerability for us. It is healing to humbly and honestly pray this psalm when we are “overwhelmed” by hurt, confusion, anger, fear or any form of desperation.

The psalm is a script for
unburdening negation in God’s presence.
It is a script for rehabilitation to
the community of praise and thanks.

Walter Brueggemann

We may have to pray Psalm 69 many times before we let God through to teach us the real meaning of our suffering. It is only then that we might pray the psalm’s final verses:

See, you humble ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, take heart!
For the LORD hears us,
and does not turn away from our pain.
Let the heaven and the earth praise God,
the seas and whatever moves in them!
For God will rescue usand rebuild us
so that we can be at home with ourselves
as the dwelling place of God.

Psalm 69: 33-36

Poetry: Psalm 69 – Christine Robinson

Save me, O God,
I have gotten myself in deep waters.
and find no firm ground under my feet.

I am tired of crying.
I feel at war with myself and with others;
I’m unable to do what is expected of me.

O God, you know my foolishness and my faults—
Do you love me anyway?
I really am sinking.

These rushing, dark waters are going to swallow me up.
Answer me, God!
Your loving kindness would save me.

If I could see your face, it would be enough
to ease my distress and help me relax in the flood.
I will remember that you are here,
even in the torrent, even in the war.

I will give thanks for the small beauties
and kindnesses of the day.
And for the love that is in my heart.

Music: Deep Water – American Authors 

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