Johnny called last Saturday. A longtime friend, we ruminated over our forty-five years as friends. It started in college in Florida, then seminary in Oregon, and continues by social media and phone. How I miss his presence.
We talked about the ordinary life as a follower of Christ. It struck me that, like Psalm 69, traveling with Jesus is ultimately rosy beautiful. But there are thorns. In Eden, the roses of life weren’t supposed to have thorns. But our first parents blew it and we have followed in their footsteps ever since.
With others, I see a pattern in Psalm 69 that mimics our experience in a broken and fallen world: We lament/grieve our losses of security and peace (1-21); our grief turns to anger (22-29); our anger turns to worship (30-34); our worship turns our hearts to a lasting hope (35-36). My friend Johnny and I have experienced all of these over our seven decades. Have you?
First, there is lament in our grief (1-21). We see a lot of this in the Psalms. “I am worn out calling for help” (NIV, verse 3). “More in number than the hairs on my head are those who hate me without cause.” David wonders if his sins fit into it all (5) and he remembers God accomplishes His will in our lives with an accompanying myriad of angels (“O Lord God of hosts”). He acknowledges tough experiences run deep—into his “soul” (10, 18)—and the answers and relief he needs are found in God Himself and His “steadfast love” (6, 13,16). Let us not linger in crisis fatigue when God is at our side.
Second, our lament/grief gets emotional (22-29). Psalm 69, often quoted or alluded to in the New Testament, turns grief into anger. David lashes out at his enemies and circumstances. “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous.” God allows these prayers but note: “Emotions…are the cry that gives the heart a voice…While the Psalms allow us to express our emotions, they seek to shape them into righteous ones.” What loss(es) are you emotional about?
Next, the response to our crisis and grief is critical: we turn to worship God (30-34),who is open to us by the cross of Jesus Christ, and led by the Holy Spirit (John 4; Romans 8). “Let your salvation, O God, set me on high! I will praise the name of God with a song…with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD…you who seek God, let your hearts revive…” Are you like me when I am not wise, rushing to others instead of God as I put my to do list together to take control? Ouch.
Finally, David resolves to rest in the promises of God and to have hope (35-36). Hope is not “maybe” but the certainty of God and His response. He simply says, “For God will save…”
Johnny’s testimony is that God will rescue, and does, even now. Do you believe it?