I understood something new of the Psalms today. Those who have read them have probably noticed that these songs and prayers of desperation, especially those attributed to David, often seem to have a sort of...mood swing element to them. David cries out in anger or distress for line after line of emotive poetry, and then, click--he spits out a resounding affirmation of God's strength or a beautiful remembrance of God's faithfulness. Psalm 13 is one example that has always lingered in my mind. Most of it betrays David's feeling that God has abandoned him, that David has been left to his enemies without hope of rescue. Yet that same psalm ends with this: "But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me" (5-6) At times such switches simply sound odd.
There isn't a really nice way to say it: I have been pretty depressed most of the time for the last few months. Life feels heavy and hard, and while God continually shows me of his goodness, I feel ignored by him in the deepest areas of struggle and suffering. Frustration, anger, and discouragement have been swirling around in my head, unvoiced to a large degree. Today, however, much of it came spilling out. In jaded and bitter words, I spoke of a God who doesn't rescue us when we call to him, who doesn't come to my aid. I spoke of hopelessness, and I attempted to voice an apathy that, of course, is no more than a cover up for caring so much that it nearly does me in. Hot tears welled up. And there it was: my pain, voiced and echoing in the air inside my car.
In that silence that followed, something in me stirred. Some deep part of me was not satisfied with the statements I had made, felt as if I had defiled the sacred. It was not so much a concern that I had said the wrong thing, or some need for a clean-cut religiosity; rather, it was the feeling that I had spoken untruth about One whom I love. And the feeling did not call me to set aside my emotions, only to acknowledge truth in the midst of them. The truth is that God does rescue his people and has so many times rescued me, even if he seems to have left me now. The truth is that there is no hope at all outside of him, because he is hope embodied, and that my pain at his seeming indifference simply underscores his preeminence in my life. That stirring, that moment of pause, was my own fifth verse--not forced, but rising up from the place in me where the Truth resides. There in that place, the Spirit who has made a home in me held a candle up against the dark feelings that threatened to overwhelm me.
Deep into my bones, I journey with David through the early part of Psalm 13 these days: "How long must I wrestle with my thoughts, and every day have sorrow in my heart?" Yet even as I voice my anguish, I see a flickering. There is a candle somewhere in that darkness, calling me to cling to the ankles of Hope for dear life. It calls me, no matter how weary my voice, to sing to the Lord: he has indeed been good to me.