Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Reaching out to the rejected

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 88:13-14 (NIV):

“But I cry to you for help, O Lord;

in the morning my prayer comes before you.

Why, O Lord, do you reject me

and hide your face from me.”

In life, there is much difficulty. Sometimes, it seems, there is no relief in sight. All hope is lost. Does God even hear our prayers at such times? Life is miserable, and we don’t know where to turn. We cry out to God, but we aren’t even certain he’s listening. Yet, even in our deepest misery, God understands; he does not reject us forever.

Psalm 88 is one of the few psalms that do not have a conclusion of answered prayer. The psalm does not end with praise of how God worked in Heman’s (a son of Korah and a musician) plight. Even though Heman’s soul “is full of trouble,” (vs. 3a), he does not stop crying out. Even though he appears to be near death (“as my life draws near the grave”, vs. 3b), he doesn’t stop praying.

Because of Heman’s illness, his friends have deserted him. This is one of the darkest psalms out of the 150 listed in the Bible. Life does not appear to get better for Heman. So what is the message if there is no hope for someone in such despair? Perhaps the message isn’t for the afflicted, but for the friends of Heman. God tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). How do we do that in such a situation as this? Or do we avoid the situation, as the priest and the Levite did in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:27-37).

We can always pray for that person. Pray for a miracle. Pray for strength. Pray for endurance. Pray for their financial needs to be met. Pray that friends don’t desert the person, because despair robs us of dignity and emotional strength. Despair leads to depression. Depression leads to solitude. All those things wrapped into one leads to hopelessness. Hopelessness leads to the end. We need to be friends to such people. We were created to love and be in fellowship, and when we are lacking those two essential elements in life, misery can fill our lives. When Jesus told us to love our neighbors, he wasn’t talking about the millionaire down the road who has everything; he was talking about the person who has nothing. When we love our neighbors today, that has a way of coming around to us tomorrow when we are down and out.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to lift up my friends in prayer, and help me to be a better friend through their troubles and struggles. Amen

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