Day 8 | Broken minds and bodies
Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, Lord, how long?
Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.
Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
Who praises you from the grave?
I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
Recently, a well-regarded Christian leader in the UK announced on social media that he had Parkinson's disease. In response, a pastor he didn't know commented that he was 'walking in disobedience' by not 'commanding a word' over his disease. There followed a flood of comments pushing back, which included many first-hand stories of people who'd been unfairly rebuked for a 'lack of faith' that was supposedly causing their ongoing suffering.
In contrast, the Psalms give voice to the depths of human pain, a gift to those of us who might otherwise feel shame and isolation. Here is a prayer of utter desperation: 'My bones are in agony... my soul is in deep anguish.' As someone who has experienced a great deal of depression, I too have flooded my bed with weeping, and been told my depression is sinful and harmful to God's reputation.
Nowhere in the Bible does God promise us lifelong physical and mental well-being. On the contrary, Jesus says, 'In this world you will have trouble' (John 16:33), emphasis mine). Two things I know to be true: for now, the Lord allows us to go through hard times. And he is Emmanuel, God with us, the one who hears our weeping.
Father God, this life can hurt. Sometimes it feels as though you are standing back, just letting things happen. It makes me scared and angry with you. And yet I know you are good, you are with me, and one day you will call an end to all the pain and make everything right. Help me to hold on in those times and work through me to support others when they need it.