Psalm 130 is one of the most poignant of all. You may not be in a down mood now, but you have been, or will be, or know folks who are. So recite it with me:
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications! If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities. (NRSV)
Can we receive this Psalm as God’s word to us when we are down? Yes! It’s difficult to think clearly when we’re down. That’s why listening to God’s voice through Scripture is vital. The letter “D” is given for a bad grade, not quite flunking. Consider some of the “D” grades in life and how to cope with them, by crying out to the Lord from the depths, turning them into “A” grades.
- Depths of disobedience: deceived, depraved, deceitful, defiant, dead in trespasses and sins. We cope with this “D” grade by admitting to God that we fall under the Scriptural indictment: “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” In the power of God’s forgiving grace, the penitent sinner gets an A grade: acknowledged need, atoned-for sin, absolved of guilt, alive again!
- Depths of discord: divisiveness, disorder, disruption, desertion, death. Family feuds, tribal squabbles, civic strife, and war are social manifestations of such discord. This sad, age-old, litany of ignorance and evil is, alas, daily featured as “news.” In the power of God’s redemptive grace, bickering individuals and groups get an A grade: assigned responsibilities, accountability, activated neighborliness, agape love, alive again!
- Depths of discouragement: depressed, despondent, dejected, dead. Whether caused by inward or outward circumstances this downward spiral is a real factor in the lives of ordinary folks, who may need the support of discerning friends and family. In the power of God’s comforting grace, downhearted folks get an A grade: acceptance by the faith community, alternative directions in life, amiable associations, agreeable working/living conditions, alive again!
- Depths of dishonor: deposed, demoted, duped, denigrated, done for. In the power of God’s affirming grace, disparaged folks get an A grade: admission to God’s kingdom, advocacy, admiration, adornment, alive again!
- Depths of disability: diseased, diminished, detained, destroyed. In the power of God’s healing grace, folks disabled by misfortune, ignorance, or malice get an A grade: accepted, animated, amended, activated, alive again!
- Depths of disbelief: doubting God, distrusting others, deconstructing truth, disdaining the holy, dead. In the power of God’s revealing grace, both the philosophically perplexed and the ethically self-deceived folks get an A grade: affirming intuitions, awesome epiphanies, axiological answers, alive again!
- Depths of despair: deserted, depressed, desolate, devastated, dead. In epiphanies of God’s resurrection-assured grace, desperate folks get an A grade: acceptance of deliverance, access to the Spirit’s agency, agendas for disciplinary and devotional habits, alive again!
How wonderful it is to be brought “out of the depths”, to have “aced” it!
How wonderful it will be to hear this accolade from the Lord of glory:
”Well done, thou good and faithful servant. . . enter into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matt. 25:21 KJV)
Arthur O. Roberts