19 But you, Lord! Don’t be far away!
You are my strength!
Come quick and help me!
20 Deliver me from the sword.
Deliver my life from the power of the dog.
We recognize Psalm 22 most readily in relation to the cross, from its famous opening line: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
The psalm is plea to a God who seems far away – even oblivious to the suffering of the faithful.
In our suffering, we often perceive ourselves to be completely alone. We feel isolated. We sometimes sense people – even our closest people – pulling back from us because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing or because they’re unsure how to help. You know that’s true because you’ve likely done it yourself.
It’s also true that we often don’t help ourselves – in fact, we often go OUT of our way to DRIVE people away. Even when someone comes to us, saying, “I know what you’re going through,” we reflexively respond: “No, you don’t!” And while it’s often NOT a helpful thing to say, and I try to avoid it myself because of course no one shares our EXACT experience or feelings, I wonder if sometimes we are too quick to reject the commonality of our human experience. Yes, our pain is unique, because it’s our own. But there is a universality to emotions like loss, loneliness, betrayal, and disappointment that should not be underestimated.
The great truth of the Christian faith is that God knows the things we feel, because God has felt them too. I believe God hears our hearts through the pain.
I also believe that God often answers our prayers in the form of other people. Sometimes I wonder if we are too quick to shut down or shut out others around us because we assume they can’t or won’t understand – when in fact, they may have been sent by God as an answer to our prayer.
What if the end to our isolation begins with trusting God enough to send us someone to sit with us in our pain?
by Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Sometimes, we are the ones getting in the way of God’s help. Today, instead of praying for God to intervene in your situation, what if you pray for openness to those God may be sending into your life to assist you?
Prayer: God, we sometimes believe that no one understands us. Sometimes we wonder whether you even understand us. Today, remind us that you know all the struggles we face. Instead of suffering in isolation, help us to trust those whom you’ve sent to help. Amen.