I Will Praise (May 16, 2013)

…Opening To…

Words written fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, a thousand years ago, can have as much…power today as ever they had it then to come alive for us and in us and to make us more alive within ourselves. (Frederick Buechner)

…Listening In…

I will praise the Name of God in song; I will proclaim his greatness with thanksgiving. (Psalm 69:32; context)

…Filling Up…

The third verse down the neck of my guitar case comes from a special type of psalm called a “psalm of lament.” In this category of psalm, the writer bewails a tragedy (or two or three or four) that has befallen. The writer goes on to wonder if God is anywhere nearby or if God is going to help out because it sure seems that God has cut and run.

Now, you think: “Gee, that verse above does sound very much like a lamentation. Are you sure you got the citation right, Adam?” Good observation. Yes, the citation is correct. And yes, this verse doesn’t sound much like the thirty plus verses that come before it. Indeed, the first four verses of the psalm read, “Save me, O God, for the waters have risen up to my neck. I am sinking in deep mire, and there is no firm ground for my feet. I have come into deep waters, and the torrent washes over me. I have grown weary with my crying; my throat is inflamed; my eyes have failed from looking for my God.”

This is one grief-stricken psalmist. How could the writer get from looking for God to praising God in song? Good question. Right here is where the future tense comes in. Notice that the psalmist says, “I will praise… I will proclaim…” The psalmist is mired in grief, blinded by sorrow. This writer feels abandoned and on the verge of despair. At the moment of penning this psalm, the writer cannot praise God or proclaim God’s greatness.

But even in this deepest lamentation, there is a glimmer of hope, and that glimmer is captured in the future tense. Someday – maybe not tomorrow or next week or next year – but someday, the psalmist will once again praise the name of God again. Psalms of lamentation give us an example to follow when we are in the midst of grief. They give us permission to feel the feelings of loss and sorrow and abandonment. But they also give us the hope that praising and singing and thanksgiving will come again in time.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you never abandon me, even when I cannot feel your presence. Help me when I am on the verge of despair to hold on to the sliver of hope that is a future full of your presence. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, with your words on my lips and your joy in my heart, ready to share both with all I meet.

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