Wednesday, April 04, 2012

A Lenten Journey: Climbing to the Cross - Day THIRTY-SEVEN

Psalm 55, Common English Bible
   For the music leader. With stringed instruments. A maskil of David.

God, listen to my prayer;
   don’t avoid my request!
Pay attention! Answer me!
   I can’t sit still while complaining. 
I’m beside myself over the enemy’s noise,
      at the wicked person’s racket,
      because they bring disaster on me
      and harass me furiously.
My heart pounds in my chest because death’s terrors have reached me.
Fear and trembling have come upon me;
   I’m shaking all over. 
 I say to myself, I wish I had wings like a dove!
   I’d fly away and rest.
I’d run so far away! I’d live in the desert.
I’d hurry to my hideout,
   far from the rushing wind and storm.
Baffle them, my Lord!
   Confuse their language
   because I see violence and conflict
   in the city.
Day and night they make their rounds on its walls,
   and evil and misery live inside it.
Disaster lives inside it; oppression and fraud
   never leave the town square.

It’s not an enemy that is insulting me—
   I could handle that.
It’s not someone who hates me
   who is exalted over me—
   I could hide from them.
No. It’s you, my equal,
   my close companion, my good friend!
It was so pleasant when together we entered God’s house with the crowd.

Let death devastate my enemies;
   let them go to the grave alive
      because evil lives with them—even inside them!
But I call out to God,
   and the LORD will rescue me.
At evening, morning, and midday
   I complain and moan
   so that God will hear my voice.
He saves me, unharmed, from my struggle,
   though there are many who are out to get me.
God, who is enthroned from ancient days,
   will hear and humble them
because they don’t change
      and they don’t worship God.
My friend attacked his allies,
   breaking his covenant.
Though his talk is smoother than butter, 
   war is in his heart; 
though his words are more silky than oil, 
   they are really drawn swords: 
“Cast your burden on the LORD—he will support you! God will never let the righteous be shaken!” 
But you, God, bring the wicked down to the deepest pit.
   Let bloodthirsty and treacherous people
   not live out even half their days.
      But me? 
I trust in you! 


Have you known people whose 'words are more silky than oil' but are 'really drawn swords?' 

I have. 

I imagine we all have. 

It's a through-the-looking-glass experience, that sense of personal betrayal when someone we thought was a friend turns out to be anything but. 

This psalm feels tumultuous to me - filled with shifting emotions, feelings of betrayal juxtaposed with statements of trust in God, a sense of despair adjoining words of confidence and assurance. 

I've had experiences that left me feeling like that - real cognitive dissonance. I thought one thing was true...
           ...but it turns out the opposite was true all the time. 

It's an interesting and apt choice for Holy Week. The idea of betrayal is pervasive in this last leg of the journey to Calvary, steadily increasing as we move toward that meal in the upper room and the fatal foray out into the garden afterward. 

And this is most definitely a song about betrayal. That crazy-making flood of emotions that comes with the territory of such pain - the anger, the fear, the deep desire to hang onto trust even when it feels like all that is sensible is about to crash overhead. 

All of that is part of this story we're telling these weeks of Lent. 

All of it. 

And all of it is part of our stories, too. We have all been betrayed - in matters both great and small. 

And we have all been betrayers - turning on those we say we love, including ourselves. 

But there is hope on the horizon. The key to it is found in the last line -

"But me? I trust in you!" 

Hard to do in the midst of such overwhelming emotions - but oh-so-necessary, oh-so-important. 

I'm going to try to trust. 

You, too? 


Trustworthy God - there are days (sometimes even weeks) when I'm not at all sure about you. Can you be trusted? Horrible things have happened. Horrible. And I feel betrayed and abandoned. Are you there? Do you care? 

And then...I remember Jesus, who surely had reason to distrust everyone. But he always held onto you, didn't he? Even at the very end, even when he felt what we all feel sometimes - that he was abandoned and alone. Even then, he committed himself to you. Will you help me to hang on when it gets dicey? Because I need help to do this trusting. Truly, I do. I need you most of all - help me to remember that, and to hang on.