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Out of the Depths

March 27, 2020

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.” Psalm 130:5-6

Dispatches from a Suburban Pastor in the Midst of a Pandemic – Captain’s Log, Day 11 of Sheltering in Place.

My thoughts were all over the place when I woke this morning. I was up early so that I could be at the grocery store when it opened. As I got ready in the darkness, the world felt heavy upon me. I scanned the news. Worldwide COVID-19 cases (diagnosed) have crossed the half-million mark. The U.S. now has more confirmed cases than any other country (winning!). Chicago is becoming a true hot spot for the virus. Boris Johnson is the latest newsworthy figure to announce a diagnosis; how many not-newsworthy figures will go undiagnosed, uncared for? I thought of the doctors and nurses in my pastoral care, and I prayed for them. And I prayed that we as a nation would support them.

After returning from the Jewel (am I the only one who feels a bizarre sense of accomplishment for this, like I’m some sort of hunter/gatherer returning from the wild with fresh provisions? What a ridiculous feeling.) I sat down and turned to the psalms. The gift of the psalms is that they were given by God to give voice to our thoughts, turning them into prayers returning to the God who gave them to us.

Psalm 130, appointed for this Sunday, the Fifth in Lent, clarified my thoughts and gave voice to my prayer for today. The psalmist begins from “the depths.” I can relate. The psalm is a heart-rending plea for God to listen. The psalmist continues in faith; after all, if they didn’t believe God was listening, they would have ended the psalm right there.

By verse 3, the psalmist seems to be worrying that God is listening, paying attention. For surely, God will note their sins. My worries went in this direction, too, this morning. Am I doing enough? Who have I let down in these days? What else should I be doing?

The psalmist, just as quickly as they noted their sin, remembers God’s forgiveness. There is grace to be found from the Lord. Grace for us and for one another during these days.

And so, we wait. We wait in hope. The psalmist invokes the image of nighttime, during which the darkness can feel as it will last forever. How many of us spend parts of the night tossing and turning, worrying about our parents, our children, ourselves. About our whole world. But the psalmist knows that no night has ever lasted forever. This one won’t, either. The sunrise will come. In the darkness, we watch. We wait, and we watch.

The psalm ends with the promise of redemption. That’s how God’s story has always ended or, better, that’s always been the way the story is promised to end. With the blaze of the sun cresting above the horizon; with good news of great joy for all the people.

My thoughts have clarified, focused. The promise is secure, bought for us by Christ Jesus himself.

If you are in the depths today, cry out to the Lord. God is listening. If you have sinned, cry out to the Lord. God is forgiving. If you feel trapped in darkness, cry out to the Lord. God is on the way.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of hope, you promise sunrise will follow after every night. As we watch and wait, we pray that you would be present for us even in the long watches of the night. Help us give voice to our fears and our sins, finding hope and forgiveness from you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

From → COVID-19

  1. Carol Prinz permalink

    “Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!”
    (Romans 15:13 MSG)

  2. Scott Schwar permalink

    Like the Star Trek log references ! Thank you for your spiritual inspiration and humor. Both are surely welcome times like these.

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