Hear my prayer, LORD;
let my cry for help come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
when I call, answer me quickly.
For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
I forget to eat my food.
In my distress I groan aloud
and am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like a desert owl,
like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake; I have become
like a bird alone on a roof.
All day long my enemies taunt me;
those who rail against me use my name as a curse.
For I eat ashes as my food
and mingle my drink with tears
because of your great wrath,
for you have taken me up and thrown me aside.
My days are like the evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.
But you, LORD, sit enthroned forever;
your renown endures through all generations.
You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to show favor to her;
the appointed time has come.
For her stones are dear to your servants;
her very dust moves them to pity.
The nations will fear the name of the LORD,
all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
For the LORD will rebuild Zion
and appear in his glory.
He will respond to the prayer of the destitute;
he will not despise their plea.
Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the LORD:
“The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release those condemned to death.”
So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion
and his praise in Jerusalem
when the peoples and the kingdoms
assemble to worship the LORD.
In the course of my life he broke my strength;
he cut short my days.
So I said:
“Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days;
your years go on through all generations.
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
and they will be discarded.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.
The children of your servants will live in your presence;
their descendants will be established before you.”
As the world rapidly spirals into chaos and uncertainty, our suffering increases proportionately. Those of us struggling will relate to the psalmist's feeling that life is passing away like smoke. During such times of turmoil, when everything around us seems in disarray, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, lost, and even abandoned. Yet, in the midst of our darkest moments, the words of this psalm offer us a glimmer of hope and a reminder of God's unchanging nature.
How does the knowledge of God's unchanging nature help us? I once sailed in a boat in a stormy sea and felt extremely nauseous. I noticed a huge rock sitting in the middle of the sea, and I realized that if I kept my eyes fixed on it, my nausea subsided. I discovered that there is a term for this known as "visual fixation."
When we are in situations where our body is experiencing motion, like being on a boat in rough seas, our inner ear, which helps maintain balance, can send mixed signals to our brain, leading to motion sickness and nausea. In such situations, fixing our gaze on a stable and distant object, like the huge rock I saw in the middle of the sea, can help provide a visual reference point. This fixed point gives our brain a more stable and consistent reference frame, which can help override the conflicting signals from our inner ear. As a result, we feel less disoriented and nauseous.
Similarly, the unchanging nature of God acts like an anchor to the soul. We know his love is steadfast, meaning it does not fluctuate based on circumstances or feelings. We know he is a reliable refuge, providing us safety and solace in times of difficulty. We know he is faithful in keeping his promises, so he will do what he says he will do. We know his character is consistent, that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Therefore, when everything else seems to be shifting, let us keep our eyes on the unchanging Rock that is God, and we will get through the turbulence of life.
God bless you.