If you listen closely, you can almost hear the Gerasene man whispering these words. How often has he come to the shoreline and thought about throwing his body into the waters of the deep that beckon him with the promise of an end to his torture and isolation? How often does he wonder why God has forgotten him?
The psalm continues to turn inward, to rehearse a script to share with God upon meeting: Why do I have to walk around sad, oppressed by enemies? What keeps us from actually taking this prayer to God? What keeps us turning it around within ourselves instead? We come back again, to the refrain of hope, as if this is the only way to approach God.
I know so many people who move through life this way. Sometimes I am one of them. To bring to light what is heavy and hard, what is depressed and sad can seem like an impossible task. The risk of ridicule, the potential for shame, the possibility of relationships cut off because of an inability to relate can keep many in silence about feeling lost and disconnected. It’s easier to hide behind hope than it is to own our despair.
But what healing is possible when someone hears us! The psalmist takes the time to write down these words as a way to say, “Me too. If you’ve felt this way, know that you’re not alone.”
We know that God does not expect us to dwell in our own negative emotions. Yet easily we forget. The caring and radical acts of listening, of presence, of non-judgment can be like coming face-to-face with God. Connecting with others connects us to God. How might you be called to connect today?
God, help me to connect with someone today. Remind me that I am never alone. Amen.
The fact that we trust in God does not guarantee that life will be easy. Believers suffer discouragement as well. Elijah is a powerful prophet of God who faces profound discouragement. He looks around and sees faithlessness and desolation, as does the psalmist wrestling with his own sense of despair. In both cases the person’s spirit is revived—by divine visitation to Elijah and by the psalmist’s self-talk about the truth of God’s faithfulness. The New Testament readings take us in a different direction. Paul speaks of the freedom we have when we are in Christ, heirs to all of God’s promises. The Gospel writer tells of another kind of freedom, the freedom experienced by a man delivered from demon possession.
Read 1 Kings 19:1-15a. Recall a time you ran to a silent place. How did God send you back into the world?
Read Psalm 42. The author asks us to imagine the words of this psalm coming from the mouth of Elijah and the Gerasene man. Consider how these words might be yours as well.
Read Galatians 3:23-29. How does your faith in Christ help you to embrace the freedom that comes from lack of division rather than to flee in fear?
Read Luke 8:26-39. What true story do you have to tell to the world of what Jesus has done for you?
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