Starting at the bottom
For reading & meditation: Lamentations 3:19-27
“‘ my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.” (vv.20-21)
Now we come to the turning point of the seventy-third psalm – the point where the psalmist takes the first step toward the resolution of his problem. We must not forget that the purpose of this psalm is to show us how the writer solved his problem, so that when we get into the same kind of difficulty we can apply the same solutions. Here, then, is his first step: “If I had said, ‘I will speak thus,’ I would have betrayed your children. When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me” (Psa. 73:15-16). We see in these words what it was that arrested his feelings of doubt and despair – the thought that if he were to speak out of his discouraged heart he would put a stumbling block in someone else’s path. “If I did that,” he thinks to himself, “I would be untrue to the generation of God’s children. So, rather than discourage others with my doubts, I will not say anything at all.” Some might regard it as strange that the first step the psalmist took on the road to recovery should be one with such a low motivation. Indeed, there are those who have said it was unworthy of him and that he should not have allowed himself to get into that condition. Similarly, when people in the Church today confess to having “unspiritual” feelings, I am sure you have heard judgmental advice-givers address them with words like: “You ought not to feel like that!” But the point is that they do feel like that, and reality demands that we begin right where they are and not where we would like them to be. Personally, I do not care how low a person’s stand might be as long as he or she is standing and not slipping.
Gracious and loving Father, teach me how to handle myself in a crisis and help me not to be too proud to begin at the lowest level. Better to have my feet on the lowest rung of the ladder than to be struggling in the mire. Amen.
For further study:
1. Why can we come boldly to the Lord with our feelings?
2. What will we obtain?