St. John’s University, Collegivelle, MN, 56231 2006
Sunday, June 7
By Erica Hanchey
Psalm 55, full of vivid imagery of the battles we face and distinction between righteous and unrighteous, is a Psalm of comfort, a prayer that is beautifully and powerfully written in 23 simple verses:
Psalm 55 : 1-23 Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest — I would flee far away and stay in the desert; Selah I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.” Confuse the wicked, O Lord, confound their speech, for I see violence and strife in the city. Day and night they prowl about on its walls; malice and abuse are within it. Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets. If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God. Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave, for evil finds lodging among them. But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. God, who is enthroned forever, will hear them and afflict them– Selah men who never change their ways and have no fear of God. My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords. Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. But you, O God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of corruption; bloodthirsty and deceitful men will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you.
David speaks of the enemy, the unrighteous, the battles that rage, and the presence, protection and plans of God that shield the righteous. And David speaks of a deep trust in the Lord.
I don’t often find myself in a literal interpretation of these versus, when war, strife and consuming conflict envelop me. My thoughts are not often spent condemning the sly and calling out the deceitful. My battles aren’t always waged against a physical enemy. Yet neither are David’s. The battles of my heart, mind, body and spirit are more often internal where the barriers and struggles are created and exaggerated because of my own doing.
I can easily become troubled by the challenges of each day, by the fear of what surrounds us (a pandemic and its limitations, hatred, injustice, violence, natural disasters, death, heartbreak, the unknown, the what-ifs and all of the things I don’t know or don’t understand). I can easily judge and feel judged. I can become incited by the negative behavior of others and stray to be consumed my their unrighteous choices and actions. I can choose how I will respond to these thoughts, feelings & actions.
But as for me, I trust in you.
Because I believe. Because I look for You and see You revealed in others and in moments that catch my breath. Because I pray to You, and I feel you listening and holding me.
You and you alone, God…You are greater than I can ever comprehend. You are stronger than all my weaknesses, my fears and all that surrounds me. You know all that I do not. You alone will take what I do not see, hear or feel and make it known in Your time, when You know that I need it. It is through my prayers, Your word, my faith in your infinite reach, my walk with Your Son, and being mindful of the Spirit’s work in me that you are revealed to me….I trust in You! Take this day and do with it what You need to do. Shape me and use me to fulfill Your plan. Open my eyes to see you at work. Open my ears to hear you speaking. Open my heart to feel Your presence and to make You known to others. There is no care greater than You. I will cast my cares upon You. You will sustain me. I will not be shaken.
This is literally my prayer each day, whether awaking to start a new day, driving, struggling with indecision, or overcome with joy, this prayer sustains me. It sustains me because it positions me as David, freely and specifically speaking to the Lord without allowing any barriers in between us.
I often speak it out loud and with my palms held open in front of me. Some days it is spoken in my car or on my bed or facing my mirror. Some days it is a whisper. Some days it is fraught with tears and pleading. Some days it is repeated. Some days it is accented with my beating heart, open eyes lifted to the sky and a voice of praise. It depends on the day and how I feel God calling me to speak to Him.
It is a prayer I speak with my children when they are fearful, sad, confused, angry and wanting to know more, but are unsure or are hesitant to leap.
In any of these scenarios, I choosing to be of clear thought and voice because God has promised His unconditional love and infinite power to take on the cares and prayers of the righteous, of those who seek Him. This form of righteousness is me being humbled not proud.
What a gift to be blessed and loved in this way! There is no care greater than what God can do – He is asking me to trust in Him and to cast my cares upon Him.
Take a few minutes to speak the above prayer out loud or to listen to the following song or to gaze upon the image of Psalm 55:22. God is there. He is waiting for you. He is ready.