Fortieth Day of Lent, Holy Saturday

Psalm 143
Disorientation

Aviation in Alaska is a part of the fabric of our lives. Like many others, I earned my private pilots license. In our training, a shield is put over our eyes while the instructor puts the plane through a series of maneuvers, turning, going up and down, and at some point the shield is removed. The task is to get the plane straight and level. It is called unusual attitude recovery and if you are afraid of flying, you know how unsettling those bumps can be.

In Psalm 143, the Psalmist expresses a life that is in an unusual attitude. Look at some of the phrases that are used: “Listen to my cry for mercy…come to my relief.” We read, “So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.” These are words of a life that is not exactly straight and level, with smooth air. No. It is a, “my spirit fails” reality that the writer was facing.

We have all been there and perhaps you are there right now. What is expressed as a cry for help may resonate with you greatly today. If they do, the words of verse 8 may be your request too, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” I need some good news Lord! Please?

Verse 5 grabbed me, “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.”  Recently I paused to do this very thing. It was in a time of extreme busyness and I was facing some struggles. My thoughts began to flood – stories from the Bible, stories from my own life, and experience – it became a great source of encouragement and strength. As an exercise, I would encourage you to remember, consider, and meditate on what God’s hands have done. God is faithful to us, His servants.

Curtis Ivanoff
Alaska Conference

 

Thirty-Ninth Day of Lent, Good Friday

Psalm 88
Disorientation

Good Friday—that day we can only call good because we know what comes next. For the first disciples and certainly for Jesus, that first Good Friday was anything but good.

Psalm 88 is a unique disorientation psalm because it is the only one that does not come to any resolution by the end. All other psalms of disorientation find some hope in God again by the final verse. Psalm 88 is different. Psalm 88 is a Good Friday psalm—it leaves us in our distress, leaves Jesus dead in a grave, leaves us praying to God, “Why do you hide your face from me?”

This psalm evokes utter desperation for the Father. The psalmist feels so abandoned that he counts himself among the dead (vs. 5). I imagine these words scrolling through Jesus’ mind as His companions had abandoned Him, as He took on the wrath of God, and as He breathed His last. If these words are expressions included in our sacred Scriptures and if they express the very experience of the Son of God, I wonder what is stopping us from this type of raw, unfettered communication with the Father?

These difficult words are in our sacred Scriptures and if Jesus’ words, “Why have you forsaken me?” are any indication, than we know that Jesus thought the same things while on the cross. However we rarely pray this way. We rarely tell God exactly how we feel. When I feel distress about the future, I pray in niceties and ask that God will help me. I certainly don’t tell God just how desperate I am for His aid.

Psalm 88 and Good Friday remind us that God knows our deepest pain and it doesn’t scare Him away. He may not provide neat and tidy answers, but He will hear us.

As you attend a Good Friday service or as you end the day, I encourage you to enter into Psalm 88’s disorientation, entrusting your deepest self to God. It may not feel good today, but as we know, Sunday’s comin’!

Julia Sandstrom
Winnipeg, MB