TAKE A MOMENT TO BREATHE IN GOD’S PRESENCE as you begin.
1 I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up,
and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
3 O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,
restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.
Detailed below is a dramatic retelling of a woman’s story about loss, pain, and grief–shared by a member of our community in response to Psalm 30:1-3. Before (and as) you begin to read it, you are invited to reflect upon those moments in your life when you have cried out to God in the midst of pain and despair.
How has God healed you?
How has God restored you?
I gave my love freely and transparently to the man I was once loved. I offered it to him, trusting that the love I gave would be the love I would receive in return. I trusted that my love for him and him alone would flow freely back to me with the same assurance of fidelity and oneness.
But, instead of relishing, savoring what I had to give him, he trashed it. I struggled to find ways to refill my heart without him, only to have him empty me again. And again. And again. At some point I realized he was only with me for the intoxication. He didn’t really want who I was…he wanted the high.
Then he tossed me out the window and drove off. And now I feel like an empty bottle in the ditch at the side of the road. Discarded. Colorless. Neglected. I feel abandoned, unwanted.
Not only do I not feel lovable, I’m not sure I can ever love again. He actually hurled the “un” word at me. Oh, this hurts! This hurts too much. Way too much.
Loneliness has overcome me. I have lost my hope. My dreams have been shattered. Despair lurks like a wild snarling dog in the bushes. I don’t know where to go from here. I feel homeless, drifting. The road I had built into my future is no longer on the map. Lord help me!
Lord! (help me).
The voice of Psalm 30 seeps into my soul.
I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up,
And have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD my God,
I cried to You for help, and You healed me.
O LORD, You have brought up my soul from Sheol;
You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit.
I DO extol You, O Lord. I am face down in the dirt in the middle of the arena and I AM crying for help. I know You know that. I know You know what a wreck I have become.
And just now, a friend stops by. I haven’t seen or talked with him for years. He doesn’t seem to care that I feel covered with road grime, that I feel so worthless.
He listens. He does not judge. He does not try to fix me or fix the situation I find myself in. He affirms. He supports. He does not condemn. I am doing quite well at doing that to myself, thank you.
And now he pauses, prays, and speaks a word from our Father to me that brings me comfort, that brings me peace and understanding. He affirms that I tried until I could try no more; that I did my best to redeem what needed redemption. I could not control the man I loved or his response. I did what God led me to do– and there is no shame in that.
And my friend reminds me that I lovable, funny and worthy of goodness. Are you kidding me? I have bad hair, my mascara is making black skid marks down to my chin, my eyes are puffy and beet-red from crying. Is he nuts? Crazy? Is he blind?
Or can he see through my blindness?
But I like hearing his words of support and his voice is filled with covenant love of community– a love I forgot existed; a love I could not trust, until now.
And as he listens, I feel myself being filled back up. I can once again taste the sweetness of love and goodness. Love is seeping back into the abused, cracked and broken vessel of my heart.
But this is no ordinary vessel. I am beginning to see that. Even in its brokenness, the uneven, sharp edges of its rim, it is beautiful. Stunning, actually.
The first love I feel again is my love for who I am.
I wrap my arms around my friend in gratitude. He looks into my eyes with a smile of compassion, a look that says “I know”. A look that says, “you are loved” in a way I have never seen before. He speaks through a moment of peace directly into my hurt, directly into my heart. No words are needed. And I am not so sure I would have heard them anyway if they were spoken.
And then he says, “See you later, my friend. May the love of Jesus remain in you … just as you remain in Him. I will be praying for you, as I have promised. Call me tomorrow or whenever you need to.”
Oh, dear friend. You will never know how much this means to me. Thank you.
So as I sit down on the curb and watch him leave, I realize that there comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and the people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, who love you. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. You love the people who treat you right, wish well the ones who don’t. Falling face-down in the middle of the arena is a part of life. Getting back up, brushing the dust off, and rising strong is truly living.
Oh, Lord Jesus, be with me now. Come fill me with Your Spirit. Expand within me and fill every wound, every dark corner in my soul. Fill me with Your light, Lord, and crowd out all the hurt, the sadness, the grief, the despair. Chase out all my darknesses as I begin my day. Cause your Spirit to melt in with mine. Carry me through this day on the wings of your angels.
And as my friend fades away into the distance, I feel Jesus walk up and sit down beside me along the edge of the road. He embraces my head in His hands and causes me to look into His eyes. My gaze dissolves into those deep, rich, chocolate-brown eyes and I instantly know that He knows. I know He feels what I feel. And I watch as He takes his finger and wipes the tears from my cheeks placing them into the palm of His hand. Then he mixes mine with some tears of His own, pauses, looks at me with a smile and wipes the clumps of mascara from under my eyes and mixes them in as well — which makes me laugh. What are you doing, Lord?
And with that mix of my pain, my brokenness, and His empathetic love, He smiles and makes the sign of the cross on my forehead.
Which, of course, makes me cry again. I lose it. But these tears are different. They are not the tears of pain. They are the tears that wash the pain away, cleansing and restoring my spirit.
Oh, Lord. Thank you.
Then He, too, fades away as I stand, breathe a heavy sigh and start my day. A smile appears unexpectedly on my lips as I continue to feel the moistness of His cross on my forehead. He has taken the acute pain completely away, and will help me carry away and discard the lingering aches. He has stopped the bleeding. His Spirit will heal the remaining wounds in time.
And I know that the Holy Spirit has some work, some holy housekeeping to do in me to get me ready for a new relationship, new trust. I know that I will soon begin to pave a new road into a future filled with dreams fulfilled beyond my wildest imagination. And those dreams will refill me with joy.
And, yes, I will laugh again. And I will soon bring laughter back into the hearts of my friends. But for now, I know that I can get through today. And my today is better than my yesterday. And my tomorrow, with His love and grace, will be even better yet.
PRAYER. God, may we know your restoration, your love, and your healing power in the depths of our pain and despair. We open ourselves and our hearts to you.Amen.
TAKE A MOMENT OF SILENCE as you close.