Listen to my cry,Psalm 142:6
for I am in desperate need;
Feeling desperate? Check out Psalm 142. Isn’t it nice to know you’re in good company?
In 7 short verses we hear David’s cry for help. This is when King Saul is looking to kill David, so David is stuck hiding in a cave with some of his men, feeling utterly alone. In verse four he says, “I have no refuge. No one cares for my life.”
It’s not pretty. David is a mess, and he doesn’t know where to find a way forward. I’ve been there, too, perhaps more than I’d like to admit. I’ve been desperate. Paralyzed with fear, seeing no way out. Feeling utterly alone. It’s not a good feeling.
I’m guessing you’ve been there, too. Maybe in the distant past, or maybe right now. Chances are that someone you know and care about is feeling that kind of desperation today. Not just having a lousy day, but feeling trapped, stuck, maybe frantically so, and with no help on the horizon.
I hope you’re not feeling that way, because it’s a feeling devoid of hope. Hopelessness is more than seeing your glass as half empty, it’s when you feel dry as a bone, parched for relief that just doesn’t come.
When it seems there is no earthly help coming to his side, David does what people of faith often do — he turns to God. In verse 7 he says, “Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.” And…basically the psalm ends. The psalm never tells us if God came to David’s aid, although we know that God did.
I actually like the ambiguous ending, where David is left waiting for God’s help to come. That’s where some of us get stuck — in that waiting time, wondering where God is and what God is doing.
Those times of desperation can feel like an eternity, like an unsolvable problem. When you find yourself feeling desperate, remind yourself that God may be answering your prayers in different ways than you’re expecting, so look around you with eyes of faith, invest some energy, and try some of these ways to find that God is working for your wellbeing.
1. Take a long walk. If you’re feeling paralyzed, physical activity can remind you that God is active and walking alongside you. Plus, the endorphins may help you find your way.
2. Look for support. Got a specific issue wearing you down? There may just be a support group out there for you. Facebook has support message boards for all kinds of ailments and stressors. You’re not alone!
3. Therapy. It’s not a dirty word. Therapy is a must-have for many people. It’s a way to talk through your roadblocks with a gifted counselor that help point you in a good direction.
4. Tiny goals. If the world as a whole seems unmanageable, try biting off something smaller. Do your dishes. Fold some clothes. Read one homework assignment. Accomplishing something small will remind you that God can be cheering you on, even in the small things.
5. Finally, if desperation has kept you bound up for far too long, and nothing seems to help, talk to your doctor about medication. Just like therapy, medication doesn’t have the negative connotation it once had. A good percentage of people you know may be taking antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds. It might be the right thing to help regulate your brain so you can better perceive God in your midst.
You’ll notice that none of the items above involve a dramatic first-hand encounter with the God of Help. But the Lord is using these and many other ways to break through that shell of pain and fear, to reach into your heart.
After you read Psalm 142, flip back to Psalm 23. That’s a psalm that moves past desperation and into the deep comfort of God’s presence. You are one of God’s cherished sheep, and God will not leave you untended. Not you, or any of the other sheep.
Isn’t it nice to know…
you’re in good company?
Have a great week.
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