Text: Psalm 102:1-14
Hear my prayer, O Lord, And let my cry come to You. Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble; Incline Your ear to me; In the day that I call, answer me speedily. For my days are consumed like smoke, And my bones are burned like a hearth. My heart is stricken and withered like grass, So that I forget to eat my bread. Because of the sound of my groaning My bones cling to my skin. I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert. I lie awake, And am like a sparrow alone on the housetop. My enemies reproach me all day long, And those who deride me swear an oath against me. For I have eaten ashes like bread, And mingled my drink with weeping, Because of Your indignation and Your wrath; For You have lifted me up and cast me away. My days are like a shadow that lengthens, And I wither away like grass. But You, O Lord, shall endure forever, And the remembrance of Your name to all generations. You will arise and have mercy on Zion; For the time to favor her, Yes, the set time, has come. For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, And show favor to her dust.
In times of temptation, it seems to the believer that God has completely abandoned him and closed His ears to his prayers. Never did he need help from God as much as now, and never was God so far away as now. The cry of the soul is a fading sound that does not reach the ears of God. He must have help, – soon, – “Hurry, Lord, trouble surrounds me; I sink in the deep mire!” – but no one answers. “O should this be my lot? I thought my days would be bright and rich, that my strength would increase, my heart be renewed in the Lord; but my days are consumed, and I am old, like smoke that is blown away; my bones are dark and my heart – my heart is withered like grass.”
In the bright times of the life of faith we feel the loving communion with God and our fellow believers, but in times of temptation we are cut off and alone. We are delivered to the torment of the poisonous spirits of hell and cannot feel the living fraternal bond with the children of God. “O how glorious it was when I lived in the company of all the saints! When I was in Bethany and on Zion, I was lifted up to heaven by the Lord’s mercy, then I was blessed and a blessing. But I didn’t keep my grace, didn’t use it properly. I was proud of myself, and now I have fallen from the beautiful family circle of the children of God. I used to be with the Lord, when I slept and when I woke; now I lie at night and sweat in terror, so incredibly alone. I am like the pelican in the wilderness; I am like the owl in the desolate places.”
O dear friend! But you say: “There is only worldly sorrow in me.” No, dear soul, when you lamented like that, didn’t you weep for God? You do not belong to the devil; you belong to our Lord Jesus. Two things you should do: 1) You should acknowledge that you have been unfaithful and unheedful, humble yourself and say: “I will bear the Lord’s wrath, for I have sinned against Him.” God’s Spirit shall help you and do it all. 2) You should keep praying for grace and hold on to the promises. This too God’s Spirit works in you. The Lord hears, even if you do not perceive His answer. All of God’s Word says that He wants to have mercy; so then our prayer for grace is a prayer according to His will, and then we know that we have what we have prayed for (1Jo 5:14-15). “He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, And shall not despise their prayer. This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the Lord. … To hear the groaning of the prisoner, To loose those appointed to death” (Psa 102:17.18.20). So you shall receive power to wait and be patient and to hope in the midst of darkness, and God shall put Satan to shame, but give you double your former glory. So you shall proclaim the Lord’s name in Zion, His praise in Jerusalem.
Have mercy, O Lord; save us, forgive us, and heal us; and when we shall sit in the darkness, be our Light. Help us to believe with hope against hope and never to give up. Amen.
And when my soul is weak and cold
In darkness and temptation,
Yet in the day of trial I’m bold,
For You are my Foundation.
We often think in midst of woe
That You are us mistreating,
But in the end we know
Your heart for us is bleeding.
And when Your precious love for all,
Your heart so gentle finding,
So many tears of joy must fall,
Our eyes with gladness blinding,
And when the lost soul turns again,
On Jesus’ pasture grazing,
The world shall vanish then
Like vapor without tracing.
Schrader: O Gud, forstanden fatter ei L 274:6-7 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Ich ruf zu dir (ELH 255); alternate hymn: With broken heart and contrite sigh ELH 455