We are in Lent, traditionally a time of self examination and fasting. Many take on a discipline of doing without during Lent. Some take on additional service. With only minor clarifications, the pandemic has imposed a Lenten experience on all of us. We have been doing without for a long season.
We have aimed to use this as a time not to get lost in the difficulty of the journey but to become enlivened in the hope of the destination! And we have sought hope in the Psalms of Ascent. These are the songs, from Psalms 120-134, that comforted our faithful forbears when they returned from exile to their beloved home of Jerusalem, up to Mount Zion.
But what about those times when we do feel lost in the difficulty of the journey? Old Testament scholar John Collins writes, “There can be little doubt that most of the psalms originated as emotive expressions. Their strength lies precisely in their ability to articulate the full range of human emotions that should not be denied or suppressed.”
Emotions that should not be denied or suppressed. Collins says, “… the psalm can act as a kind of safety valve that acknowledges the feelings without necessarily acting on them…. The power of the Psalms is that they depict human nature as it is, not necessarily as it should be.”
Waiting is hard. It’s OK to let our voices be heard in that chorus. The pilgrims sound weary, too, in Psalm 130.
Waiting for Divine Redemption
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
2 Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.
8 It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.
Narrative © 2021 Stephanie Shareck Werner
A Short Introduction to the Hebrew Bible-Second Edition, by John J. Collins. © 2014 Fortress Press; p. 301