Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.

Psalm 22:11

Flip over to Psalm 22 and you’ll read about a person who is in trouble. This is not just some walk through a tough time, this is Trouble with a capital T. Abandoned, attacked, pressed in on all sides, with no one to turn to.

I understand why people don’t dwell on this psalm. It’s the one that begins, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Those words, that we know so well from Jesus on the cross, express a level of distress that is difficult to read, let alone internalize.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?

Psalm 22:1

Cries of anguish! This is not a song to sing on a happy sabbath morning. This is individual torment at its most bleak, its most troublesome state. This is the danger zone.

Have you ever been in trouble like that? It’s a dark place. Maybe you’re facing trouble like that right now, longing for some relief. Here’s a little solace, what the Psalmist says in verse 24.

For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

Psalm 22:24

Some person, thousands of years ago, found themselves in the deepest, darkest trouble they had likely ever experienced, and still somehow, they were able to comprehend a God who walked with them, who had listened and responded to their cry for help. That turn, from desperation to hope, is one of the hallmarks of the Christian experience.

Life is not always easy, and is frequently very very hard, and yet, the Psalms remind us several times that “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” (Psalm 9:9)

It’s hard, sometimes nearly impossible, to summon that kind of faith when trouble comes. Perhaps the best we can do is look to others who have been through trouble and survived. This psalmist is a great example. Maybe you can tell your tale, like this psalmist did. Write out your pain and your fear. Make your own Psalm that is honest to God. Let it all out, don’t hold back. God surely knows your suffering and is ready to hear it.

And then, find a way to turn the corner. To hit bottom, push off, and begin the journey back up to the surface. Know that God is with you in the depths, surrounding you with unconditional love. The Holy Spirit is generating endless hope and assurance that this too shall pass.

Perhaps the only way to get past trouble is to go through it. But on the other side, I firmly believe, is a measure of peace. Even wisdom from the ordeal that has been endured.

If you’re in trouble, I am so sorry. I’m frustrated that I have no words that may make it go away. Maybe this is why Psalm 23 comes on the heels of Psalm 22. The stark pain of Psalm 22 needs the reassurance of Psalm 23 to help us make it through. In this way, the two psalms come as a set.

If that’s the case, then it’s okay to flip forward a page and remind ourselves of these words of comfort:

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm 23 (KJV)

Find hope this week,


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