Praying With the Psalms // Despair Not

Psalm 4 John 15:11 John 16:20-22

Have you ever found yourself at the point of despair? Where you feel you are barely hanging on, your fingernails digging into the edges of a spiritual precipice and you have nowhere to go. Your hands are getting weak. You are getting weak. It would feel so good to just let go: to not believe, to completely turn your back from God and end the current suffering. And yet, you know you mustn’t even dare to let go. You know, ultimately, what that would mean, and as much as you suffer now, it is nothing compared to the suffering that would come with your back turned to God.

I hope your answer is no. I hope that you could tell me, “No. I have never felt alone and miserable and desperate with nothing to hang on to but this faith - and this faith seems so weak right now.”

But my guess, is that you do know the feeling. You do know what it feels like when those enemies gather around you and begin to wear you down.  Whether it be a very real enemy like those that surrounded Israel, or maybe like Digory’s Jadis who constantly held on to him by the ankles, or just those pesky temptations and sins that have begun to pile up so high, you can’t see a way out.

The Psalmist in Psalm 4 knows just what to do. And not only that, but he then urges us to do the same.

“Answer me when I call, O God of my right!”

Do we do this? Do we call on God, a God of justice who is sure to deliver us salvation and mercy? If not, we should be doing just this.  We shouldn’t have to wait  until we are hanging on by the our knuckles from the precipice of disaster. He should be our first response. Our only response.

The salvation that comes is also that same joy that Jesus promises us in John 15:11. It’s one of the many paradox of our faith that in our trials and in our tribulations we can find joy.  Again, in John 16:20-22 Jesus tells us that though we might find sorrow now, our hearts will eventually rejoice.  Our Lord stands by us through the suffering.  And in this, our heart should take joy.

When night comes to our lives, we can take joy that Christ is with us. Indeed, the church recognizes this as she has added the final verse of this Psalm to the night time prayers of the Divine Office.

Take joy my friends. Find peace in the night through Our Lord.

Reflection: Have you a moment in your life when it felt, spiritually, like all was lost? Did your heart have a hard time searching for God?

Reflection: If you answered yes to the question above, then you know - you remember - that our God is a God of salvation and mercy. Does your life reflect that?

Act: What are some things you can do now to prepare yourself for the future? That is, what are some things you can do now to cultivate the proper response to possible future suffering?