Have you ever read someone else’s diary? I’m no snooper, myself. I always err on the side of “less is more” when someone’s personal information is concerned.
When I was young I was a avid journal-er. I wrote daily from age 14 or 15 until I went to college. I still have all the notebooks from those days—spoiler alert: they’re pretty boring! Whenever I have gone back and read them, I can’t help but recoil with a cring. It feels like I’m reading someone else’s most personal thoughts...someone young and silly. I look back on the things I said or thought with intense eye-rolling, embarrassment, pity and even disgust! How could I have been so upset about that? Why couldn’t I see how things really were? If only “present Merideth” could go back to “past Merideth” and straighten her out!
Upon praying the Psalms this summer, it strikes me again how painfully personal they are. Like Psalm 6: 6 says, “I am worn out from my groaning./ All night long I flood my bed with weeping/ and drench my couch with tears.” The lament Psalms feel like I’m spying on someone at their weakest. It takes a lot not to look away.
Psalm 22 is particularly painful.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
That first verse and I have a little history.
When considering the cruxificition as a young person, I remember learning of Jesus saying those words “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And at the time, I felt they were proof that Jesus wasn’t who he said he was. He was admiting that he was forsaken by God and therefore he wasn’t God and that this whole “dying for our sins” thing was regrettable.
That verse burned. I felt like Jesus had given up. For years, I harbored doubt and disappointment.
Fast forward many years later to when I found out Jesus was actually quoting scripture with those words... and there was more to his message. I remember running home to my New York City apartment to read the rest of it. Looking back, I realize I could have looked up the Psalm easily on my iPhone, but somehow that didn’t occur to me. I wanted to read it from the physical book.
Like a message in a bottle, sent across time, Psalm 22 was a treasure unearthed, seemingly just for me.
And there it had been all along. David (or the Psalmist’s) most personal words, true about David and true for Jesus on the cross. Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection reverberating throughout history. This must be how a human’s painful prayer becomes the Word of God.
I would post the entire Psalm here, but I urge you to go pick up a physical Bible and read it.
Sometimes scripture doesn’t mean exactly what we think it means.
It takes courage and humility to say that. I pray for more understanding, patience, and faith for me and all of us, in that process of wrestling with these questions. And just as I was when I first “read” Psalm 22: today, I am so very thankful that “He has done it!”