A Devotion for Thursday, March 26, 2020
Psalms 130:1-8 (NRSV)
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
2 Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.
8 It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.
Thoughts from “The Word in Season”
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.”
Perhaps you have been there at one time in your life or another – a place of loss so overwhelming that you wonder how you will ever raise your head to reconnect with the world around you. The death of a child or partner. A catastrophic destruction of property. Job security that is suddenly pulled out from under you with no warning.
The Psalms encompass the entire arc of human experience. There is no joy too high or sorrow too deep that does not find its voice in the 150 Psalms. Psalm 130 begins in the darkest of places. The psalmist was near despair, sinking into ocean depths in which no light penetrates. How easy it would be to simply give in and let go.
But the cry “out of the depths” saved the psalmist, and us. We are not alone. God is always with us, even if we have lost sight of that. God always hears us when we call, always forgives us, and always receives us back with great joy. Raise your head, lift your voice, and be restored.
As I read today’s Psalm, and the devotion from “The Word in Season,” I first thought, isn’t it amazing how many of these devotions have spoken to times of difficulty, loss, fear and darkness! And we could certainly hear those words “Out of the depths I cry to you,” and identify with the situation we find ourselves in amid the seemingly unstoppable spread of the Corona virus (Covid-19), especially as our once virus-free counties of Scott and Rock Island have now had their first confirmed cases of Covid-19. And experience and advice from medical experts suggests that it’s just a matter of time before we see a growing number of cases in our area – likely making its way even up into our “neck of the woods.”
But, and I’m not dismissing the idea that God is there for us in the depths of our life experiences, but there is a more specific issue at hand in Psalm 130 that goes beyond physical threat to our lives. The depths the psalmist writes about are found within his heart – the depths of his “iniquities,” his sins. It is these he is troubled by, feeling overwhelmed with, noting that no one could stand if the Lord were to mark our every sin with an indelible marker.
When was the last time our sins caused us this kind of concern – parallel in experience perhaps to the concern that pervades our society and our lives in this time of pandemic? How often do we stop to take note of, mark, our own sins? Perhaps if those were brought to mind, we too might “cry out” to the Lord for mercy.
Here is the heart of our Lenten journey – coming to terms with our failings, our shortcomings as people of God, recognizing our need for God’s grace and mercy – God’s forgiveness. The Good News is that God doesn’t mark our sins with an indelible marker, but rather a Christ-erase marker. So the psalmist can also write, “O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.”
Whether it’s the anxieties of the days we live in, or the weight of our sins, we are promised that God will be there, be with us, to save, in the grace and love of Christ Jesus our Lord.
Prayer: God of mercy, when I feel powerless against despair, remind me of the healing that only you can bring. Amen.
“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand.”
– Romans 5:1-2 (NRSV)
Blessings & Peace,