“I lie awake. I am like a bird alone on a roof.”
Psalm 102 is a lament. And it is detailed. It reads like the swirling thoughts we have in the middle of a horrible week in a COVID unit. Or after a month of chemo. Or after a year in awful workplace.
“I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones.”
As you know, one of the things I say when people have just lost a loved one is, “This is hard.” I want to interrupt the expectation we often feel that we ought to feel better, we ought not to be a burden.
As we read this psalm, it seems that there is value in honestly describing to God how we actually feel.
We get to read many interactions with God in the Bible. Many of those interactions start with God allowing the person to identify their concerns, their pains, their frustrations. And in those situations, where Elijah or Mary or a man who can’t walk or a woman who can understand a theological debate about places to worship, God does not strike them dead, doesn’t mock them. Whether speaking from a cloud or standing in front of them, God listens and sometimes responds.
As we read all of Psalm 102, the writer does point to God’s greatness. But there isn’t the sense of “But you are great so I should be happy.” Instead, the writer says, “don’t take me away.” There is a sense of “You are great, and I am still hurting.” The song doesn’t have a happy ending. Instead, the conversation continues.
Which may not be happy, but it does offer the hope of ongoing interaction in the middle of our struggles. And sometimes presence is almost as helpful as answers.