Psalm 102 • Jeremiah 23:9-15 • Romans 9:1-18 • John 6:60-71
Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress, cries the psalmist in Psalm 102. Despair, distress, and destitution come from him as he pours out his soul to God. In the depths of despair, he is mired in sickness of body, heart and soul. For I eat ashes like bread, and mingle tears with my drink, because of thy indignation and anger; for thou has taken me up and thrown me away. One can only imagine the desperation he must have felt at being rejected by God, both personally and metaphorically with his people, Israel. Yet, even in this time of despair, he honors and praises God. In his extreme distress, he expresses his entreaty and belief that God will hear the cries of his people and have mercy on them. He never loses hope.
How many of us can relate to these emotions? How many of us have felt abandoned by God, or conversely, that we have abandoned God? How often have we lost hope and been mired in our despair? But we are given a way out. This most powerful turning point is revealed in the Incarnation! It is about God’s loving and unconditional love for us. It is about forgiveness and acceptance, and recognition that since God forgives us, it is OK for us to forgive ourselves. It is about knowing that even in the depths of despair, God is there, and there is hope. As St. Paul declares, Nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. Through acceptance of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, we need not face the despair of the Psalmist as he cries that God has taken him up and thrown him away. We are freed from despair and able to move forward, secure in God’s love, with renewed spirit and confidence to become wholly who we are meant to be.
— Nancy E. Brockman