A reflection on Psalm 142 from Homa Bay SPEAK, Kenya

Beryl Wauye of Homa Bay SPEAK, Kenya shares with us her thoughts on one of the most challenging theological subjects of all: The problem of suffering and our response to it, as Christians and as humans.

Focus Text: Psalm 142

Pray and Live: You, Lord, are my refuge.

Apparently this lament and prayer was the plea of Francis of Assisi on his deathbed. The writer of the Psalm pours out his heart in prayer: “I cry aloud…I lift up my voice…I pour out before him..” He fears the enemy and persecution. He is tired out, and feels as if everyone deserted him.
Maybe this sometimes sounds familiar to us. Deserted by people, everything turns against you and nothing works out the way you want. If you are also ill or in pain and struggling to survive, sometimes all reason flies out the window. What now? Why me? Where is God?
If only we could lament in the ear of God in all honesty! Is this not what God would actually like to hear from us? If we plead to God, is this not a sign of our dependence on and trust in Him?

After all, He cares for each of us, human and animal. His care reaches its peak when Jesus Christ dies for us on the cross, there where we receive love and grace in abundance. Do you remember how Jesus felt forsaken by God in the garden of Gethsemane? Now we are never forsaken, even though it may feel that way when pain and suffering surround us.
When we read the Psalmist’s lament again, we realize that it is not about God destroying his enemies, or removing temptations. He keeps prayerfully trusting in God. His consolation is not that God protects him from problems, but that God will help him in his suffering. This help means that he is able to persevere, in spite of his problems, and that he can overcome them spiritually. The Lord does not necessarily change the situation, but the attitude of the one who prays is changed. The lament is changed in a song of praise.

What does this mean for a believer who is struggling and maybe also suffering? The certainty that God is and remains, our only hope. Life, our life, is in His hand. He is and remains our only refuge.
Remember the freedom Christ brings: a salvation unknown.
May our lives here on earth, our lifestyle and the attitude with which we approach the things which happen to us be a praise song in God’s ear.
May our way of life be a witness of a Living God who hears when His children cry and moan, but who also hears when the live praise songs to His glory. Truly, the Lord is my refuge, in this life and thereafter…

To think about : How can we respond to our pain in sickness and distress as a praise song?

PS! Info on the above photo: "HomaBay" by Valerius Tygart - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HomaBay.jpg#mediaviewer/File:HomaBay.jpg