Jesus’ Prayer Book, Part 2: Psalm 18

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All of us have “one of those days” from time to time. Most are days of accumulated small annoyances, others are comprised of one direct hit after another. I was having one of those days. There are times when the gift of being gay can be borne with gratitude and pride, and at other times, because of the ignorance or cruelty of others, it can be a cross that drives you to the ground. It was definitely one of those days. My mind was clouded by a smothering fog and my heart was numb to everything around me.

One morning, I picked up my breviary (a prayer book that breaks down psalms, others scriptures and prayers into a four-week cycle throughout the Church years). The first psalm of the day was Psalm 18. I looked down at the page and read:

I love you, O Lord, my strength
(v. 1)

And at that moment it was as if a straining dam had burst inside me. Tears of frustration and pain poured out more and more until the fog began to lift and my heart grew lighter, and I thanked God for such a show of divine compassion toward me.

God is, indeed, our strength. We do not have to go through times of trial alone. We can if we choose to, but the theological term for this is: stupid!

Look at Psalm 18: 4-5

The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.

The author was, indeed, having “one of those days”. Yet he does not sit like a lump and whine about how abused he is and how horrible his situation is, even though it is pretty bad.

In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help…
(v 6)

He cried out to the one person who could help him, not only because God is stronger than any human being or problem, but also because God loves us enough to actually want to help us, as any loving parent is willing to extend themselves to help and protect their child.

God is not made of cold stone, a lifeless being who is unmoved at the plight of his creatures:

He reached down from on high
and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my
powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too
strong for me.
(v. 16-17)

What “enemy” of “foe” are you battling today? Loneliness, depression, dependence, the ignorance of others, blindness to your own self-worth? Perhaps problems in your family, job, or even church have you feeling beaten down and lost. You do have free will, and you can freely choose to remain as miserable and put upon as you like. But that is not why you were created. That is not why Jesus came to dwell among us and remain with us until the end of time. That is not why Jesus poured out his blood through numerous wounds of demon-inspired jealousy and hatred. No, you are an expression of God’s loving presence in the world, fashioned out of the same love, and destined to live, love, and have your being in the creative love of God. And from the very love and passion that called you into existence, you were destined to receive what Jesus came to give: life to the full.

Find a time and place where there is some semblance of peace and stillness. Place yourself in God’s presence, and repeatedly pray, at a gentle pace, “I love you, O Lord, my strength”. And may you soon come to experience the one who , not only desires to be your strength, but who is also, in truth:

-my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,
-my rock in whom I take refuge
-my shield…the horn of my salvation.

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