Psalm 69:7-18 (NRSV)
Verse 7It is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that shame has covered my face.
Verse 8I have become a stranger to my kindred, an alien to my mother's children.
Verse 9It is zeal for your house that has consumed me; the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.
Verse 10When I humbled my soul with fasting, they insulted me for doing so.
Verse 11When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them.
Verse 12I am the subject of gossip for those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me.
Verse 13But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me. With your faithful help
Verse 14rescue me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters.
Verse 15Do not let the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the Pit close its mouth over me.
Verse 16Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
Verse 17Do not hide your face from your servant, for I am in distressmake haste to answer me.
Verse 18Draw near to me, redeem me, set me free because of my enemies.
Is God missing in action? It sure feels like that sometimes—especially during a global pandemic, amid nationwide upheaval over far-too-commonplace injustice, or when our world feels upside down due to a personal crisis. The writer of this psalm is terribly upset about what’s happening in life, since it feels like God has checked out and left them all alone. But as a person of faith, the psalmist directs the complaint about what’s happening not to just anybody who’ll listen, but right to God.
The Bible has many prayers of this kind, these laments or complaints about what’s going on around the one who’s praying. They aren’t addressed to the neighbors, but to God. “Do not hide your face,” “Answer me,” “Rescue me” are the typical words of this prayer.
Laments in the Bible usually end in praise, because in the very act of lamenting, the speaker realizes that they don’t have to go it alone but that God is always there for them. Using lament gives us permission to let go of the outcome and let God act.
Help us, Lord, to bring our concerns to you and to leave them there, trusting you to do what’s right. Amen.