Save me, God,
because the waters have reached my neck!
I have sunk into deep mud.
My feet can’t touch the bottom!
I have entered deep water;
the flood has swept me up.
I am tired of crying.
My throat is hoarse.
My eyes are exhausted with waiting for my God.
Just about every person I speak to is tired. This week, they’re tired from picking up sticks and nailing down loose shingles. They’re tired from the extra labor of heating water on the gas stove to get the dishes clean when the water is out. They’re tired of checking daily to hear when the cable and electricity will be back.
It’s not just this week, though! People are tired of keeping track of store and restaurant policies. They are tired of hearing what the latest recommendations are as the recommendations adjust to new information. They’re tired of postponing. They’re tired of turning down invitations to get-togethers. They’re tired of wondering if that sniffle is a common cold or something far more serious. Anxiety and worry, it turns out, are wearying. Terms like “decision fatigue” and “precaution fatigue” are popping up as we look for ways to describe the lingering weariness of these past months.
What’s worse is this: when you or I are tired in body, we can sleep it off. A good night’s sleep, a nap, a break: and we’re refreshed. When we’re overwhelmed by worry, uncertainty, or grief, though, we can’t sleep those problems off. When you’re in over your head, what do you do?
The psalmist who wrote this psalm lamented. They went on:
“My treacherous enemies, those who would destroy me, are countless…I wept while I fasted— even for that I was insulted. When I wore funeral clothes, people made fun of me. Those who sit at the city gate muttered things about me; drunkards made up rude songs….Insults have broken my heart. I’m sick about it. I hoped for sympathy, but there wasn’t any; I hoped for comforters, but couldn’t find any…”
Now, I’d like to point out that lamenting is different from whining or complaining. Lamenting points out things that are wrong, things from which we need saved. It gives space for grief, whether that grief is the loss of a loved one or the loss of Netflix. There are many, many examples of psalms that express lament. The very presence of these laments in our scriptures shows us that God cares about our grief. It is Biblical to take our grief to God and pour out our laments.
You could make your own list of floodwaters, of enemies, of insults that have piled up in your life. In fact, I suggest that you do. Write them down. Tell them to God. Point out all the things, big and small, that are not right. Tell God that you trust and expect God to put things right.
That’s what the psalmist did. When they had lamented, they ended their prayer like this:
I will praise God’s name with song;
I will magnify him with thanks
because that is more pleasing to the Lord than an ox,
more pleasing than a young bull with full horns and hooves.
Let the afflicted see it and be glad!
You who seek God—
let your hearts beat strong again
because the Lord listens to the needy
and doesn’t despise his captives.
Let heaven and earth praise God,
the oceans too, and all that moves within them!
God will most certainly save Zion
and will rebuild Judah’s cities
so that God’s servants can live there and possess it.
The offspring of God’s servants will inherit Zion,
and those who love God’s name will dwell there.
The psalmist has so much to lament. Even with all of their troubles, they praise God for who God is- a God who listens to the needy, who rebuilds destroyed cities, who gives homes to those who love God’s name.
We lament to God precisely because we believe that God both cares about our grief and has the power and love to do something about it. So take your tears, your worries, your enemies, your pain, your failures, and pour them out to the God who listens.
Save me, God, when I am weary and weeping. Save me when I am exhausted and angry. Save me when I face injustice and insult. Give me words to lament my life while praising you. Amen.