Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and body with grief.
My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
and my bones grow weak.
Because of all my enemies,
I am the utter contempt of my neighbours
and an object of dread to my closest friends –
those who see me on the street flee from me.
I am forgotten as though I were dead;
I have become like broken pottery.
For I hear many whispering,
‘Terror on every side!’
They conspire against me
and plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, Lord;
I say, ‘You are my God.’
My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.
Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love.
We don’t like to admit that when all is not well in our lives – not even to ourselves.
Consequently, we can allow troubles to build up without asking for help, or knowing how to deal with them ourselves. We may feel ourselves to be failing, or fear that the world is against us. Oftener than we think, depression or mental illness can take hold.
For the psalmist, there is a good man’s vivid horror at the prospect of a lynching at the hands of bad ones.
Whether our troubles are internal or external, it is at times like this that we most need the support of friends and family. We must recognise our need of help, and like the psalmist, we can bring our deepest fears to God.
Be gracious to me, O LORD, when I am in distress.
When I feel overwhelmed by troubles within and without,
let me bring them all to your hand,
and feel your enfolding comfort and peace.
May I trust in you, O LORD;
save me in your steadfast love.
Andrew Atkinson is the Legal and Trust Officer of the Northern Synod and a lay preacher
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