“Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.”
Psalm 69 is a lament, one that puts into words the agony of my own heart right now. I am weary. Night after night I can’t sleep. My body is weakened by stress and I’m physically ill. I feel like a worn out old shoe that has to keep running.
Can you relate?
It doesn’t seem so long ago when the Psalms of Lament hardly made sense to me. I was happy, carefree, full of faith and hope. My life philosophy—”it’ll all work out”—was based on the unwavering belief in the goodness and sovereignty of God. It’s not that I was unfamiliar with suffering. I had faced the worst kinds of hardship that you can imagine—and yet my joy couldn’t be snuffed out.
But now the waters have come up to my neck and I am gasping for air. I still believe in the goodness and sovereignty of God, which is why I cry out to him for help, but he feels far away. His back is turned to me.
And so now, finally, I am learning the cost of faith.
The Psalmist, apparently while still barely treading the deep waters, says,
“I will praise God’s name in song
and glorify him with thanksgiving…
The LORD hears the needy.”
Praising God in advance for rescuing me, though he seems already too late, requires faith so deep I have to suck it out of the marrow of my bones—digging and scraping for it when it refuses to come—rather than depending on my optimistic nature to help it bubble to the surface.
This kind of faith hurts. A lot.
I sing, “Let the waters rise if you want them to. I will follow you,” but the tears stream down my face as I do. It’s like reaching the 25 mile marker in a marathon: you go on even though each step hurts.
And that’s when I remember that Jesus himself did this same thing.
“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:2-3, The Message)
I’m going to press on, no matter what the cost. I’m going to focus on the prize to strengthen my feeble arms and weak knees. And I’ll trust God even if the water pulls me under.
How about you? Will you fix your eyes on Jesus too?