Psalm 30, 6-12
Something to read
As for me, I said in my prosperity, 'I shall never be moved.' By your favour, O Lord, you had established me as a strong mountain;
you hid your face; I was dismayed.
To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I made supplication: 'What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me!
O Lord, be my helper!' You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you for ever.
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
Our Psalm continues and unfolds a profound human experience. The writer has felt abandoned by God. Life has collapsed and it has seemed that God has vanished when most sorely needed.
There is an honesty here that is striking. As so often in the Hebrew Scriptures we are brought face to face with reality and it hurts. It hurts when God seems so far away and we most need God to be dramatically, solidly, assuredly close.
Absence doesn't help when what we most need is presence. For many this becomes cataclysmic to faith. How can we believe when the one we want to believe in is so terribly missing?
But the writer knows more. There can be an honest reckoning with God; a sharing of the deep anguish of feeling abandoned. Yet there is, too, a new realisation of blessing.
Out of the suffering and trial comes a renewal of faith rather than a loss of faith. That is quite a journey to take. It isn't ever easy. But it tells us to hold on and let God be God, despite appearances that might make us feel God is no longer either God or good.
Something to do
One of the ways in which suffering is transformed for us is through the care and compassion of someone else. Take care today to think about who you can help, and then do something to help them. Having read of sorrow turning into dancing, think of making that happen for another person today.
Something to pray
Gracious and sustaining God,
you offer us the gift of life and we find it to be a costly gift.
For life does not run smooth for us and for those we know and love.
Suffering is a frequent visitor and despair is a cloak we wear too often.
Help us to hold on in trust and faith even when it seems you are turning your back on us.
Help us to pray with honesty when we feel like screaming at you.
Help us to listen for the slightest hint of your presence.
Help us to hold on when even the slightest hint seems missing.
For you reveal yourself as trustworthy and steadfast.
In you we place our hope.
Today's contributor is the Rev Neil Thorogood, Principal of Westminster College, Cambridge.