Fourth Day of Lent

Psalm 22

“I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”  - Psalm 22:22; Hebrews 2:12

Often the most difficult part about experiencing hardship in life is making sense of that space in-between God’s apparent silence and the promise of His presence.

As the Psalmist writes, God is “enthroned on the praises of Israel” because “In you our fathers trusted… they trusted and were not put to shame (vs. 3-5).” In contrast, the psalmist’s inability to see God in the midst of his own suffering brings him shame. He finds himself no more than a “worm”, “scorned”, and “despised” (vs. 6) far from God’s saving grace (vs. 1).

The strength that allows the Psalmist to declare, “Yet you (God) are He”, comes in the midst of the bulls, the drought, and the preying dogs (vs. 9). It is a strength that he gains by lifting his eyes upwards and outwards towards a God who has heard his cries in the silence, who is not far from his pain. This leads the Psalmist to pray, not simply to be delivered from his trials, but for his trials to “tell of God’s name” and to “praise God’s name”.  Praise that is in the midst of his family and his community, a praise the psalmist declares comes not on his own strength, but from God (vs 25).

Recognizing that Jesus, the founder of our salvation, was “made perfect through suffering”, the author of the letter to the Hebrews reflects that the Psalmist need not be “ashamed”, because just as Jesus tasted suffering on behalf of “all” so does our suffering unite us with the One through whom all things exist (Hebrews 2:5-13). As Jesus shares in the cry of the Psalmist, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me”, He demonstrates just how far God is willing to go to meet us in the space in-between. At the cross we are reminded that it is okay to sit in these difficult spaces, to wrestle with the silence. We are also reminded that God has left nothing outside His control. It is because of this promise that we can join the Psalmist in saying “He has not hidden his face from (the afflicted), but has heard their cries”. Praise be to God.

Dave Courtney
Winnipeg, MB