I really like the idea of the Psalms. That it expresses the full range of human emotion, is powerful in its ability to speak to the human experience. But I think it is safe to say that we are partial to the positive psalms – since they appear on everything from mints to blankets (I know some of you have been hoping to wrap yourself in that trendy throw embroidered with Psalm 109:9-10, but my hunch is that you won’t find it). It is a lot more comfortable for the Psalms to remain at arm’s length. It is far less desirable to actually experience the rawness of our own human emotion as depicted in the Psalms. Psalms 25-27 are three such Psalms.
It began in January 2020. I felt unfairly criticized for a mismanaged task. Not only did I feel criticized, but I was degraded and shamed by my boss (see v.2). In my 20 years of working with various bosses I had never been treated that way and I wanted to quit on the spot.
But I couldn’t. I had no other job to go to and I wasn’t going to leave my family in a lurch financially. I decided to hang tight and see what I could do to improve the situation. It was hard. The culture was not conducive to it and then a pandemic had us all working from home.
As I read this Psalm now looking back on this situation, v.15 accurately describes how I felt. I had to trust God as he was the only one who could release me from the situation I was in. I was content and the days moved along, but in my reflections, I see clearly that the emotions described in vv. 16-18 also fit me. I felt lonely and disconnected from my peers. My heart was troubled often as I longed for things to be different. And I felt the distress of my emotions as I wrestled to distinguish what were my sins in this situation.
In April, when a new job opportunity came along with a group of people who love Jesus, it felt like God had seen me and offered a gift. I started in that role in June of 2020 and in some ways I find myself struggling to fully receive the gift. I think I also wrestle with the faithfulness of God. Not everybody who longs for a healthier situation – whether work, family or otherwise – gets one. Even as I write this, I wonder if what God is offering is a two-sided invitation. On the one side is to accept the gracious gifts of God knowing that he loves me. And the second side is to invite others into a relationship that offers healing because of Jesus.