“I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness; for you have exalted your name and your word above everything.” (Psalm 138 Verses 1-2)
A few days ago I was not ready to write or say anything about this psalm passage, because, well . . . I felt like there were too many things coming at me to be able to “praise.” It is the praise passage that is matched to the passage from I Samuel chapter 8 where the elders of Israel are demanding from Samuel a king. Samuel probably felt too many things were coming at him too!
I took my concerns to God, and over a day or two the Lord answered my spoken and unspoken prayers with the Spirit moaning for me when the words would not come. There are still things coming at me, but now I feel like I can cope with them. So I say with the psalmist . .
“On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.” (Verse 3)
I did not want to burden you or place on you my concerns, beloved reader; but wanted to speak from a position of courage and fortitude. I wanted to be able to echo and underscore the praise and thanksgiving found here.
“All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth.
They shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord.” (Verses 4-5)
And I did not want to give impression that God does not hear our prayers and petitions, for God does. The answers may not come when we think they should or the way we think they should. In fact, while I was moving through my time of distress, I was not sure how or when the Lord would answer my pleas.
“For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he perceives from far away.” (Verse 6)
But I knew I would be heard by the Lord; and that the Lord would be with me. And the outcome proves that.
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; you stretch out your hand, and your right hand delivers me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.” (Verses 7-8a)
So I am glad I waited. I am very glad I can affirm to you that Lord hears all prayers, petitions, confessions and thanksgivings. The Lord made and crafted humanity to be in relationship with the God-self. If we forget that, we must be reminded of it. I am not one who says God never gives us more than we can handle – that would be an image of God who brings great disaster upon humanity and then expects us to “buck up under it.” What I do believe is that God will never desert us in times of trouble but will be a tangible presence through the Spirit if we keep ourselves connected to the Spirit or ask the Spirit to be with us. The psalmist ends this praise psalm saying . . .
“Do not forsake the work of your hands.” (Verse 8b)
And I believe that the work of God’s hands might mean us, or God’s outreach to humanity. The plea is that God will not forsake us (which of course the Divine won’t) because we know we cannot make our way through this life without God. We should not make our way through this life without the Lord!
May God be with you, beloved reader, through all of your times of stress and times of thanksgiving. Selah!