Today’s psalm is the prayer of one who is overwhelmed by fear in the depths of despair opening with a desperate call for help: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice!”
While we claim that fear is an emotion we don’t like and seek to avoid, many people seem irrationally attracted to what instills and aggravates fear. Bad news travels faster than good news. Risky tourist adventures grow in popularity with people paying to leap from mountains and bridges and jumping from planes. The horror movie market with unpredictable extra-terrestrial. monsters is flourishing. And when these are not enough we choose to ignore and even reject the sound and balanced advice of health professionals opting to panic when a new virus appears.
Media companies are motivated by our appetite for fear, opting for headlines that feed anxiety. A PANDEMIC headline will sell papers and magazines when an ALL IS WELL banner will be ignored. When money is the motive, little thought is given to the frail elderly person living alone, unable to sleep because of worry when the grandchild is travelling in China or Italy.
The psalmist is familiar with fear, but understands that rather than act out and advertise the fear (which would only promote hysteria) this natural and healthy human emotion is best shared with God in the silence of the heart.
A fear tossed among immature masses soon escalates. But fear expressed in heart-felt prayer becomes an opportunity for greater maturity of faith and deeper human relationships.
So we begin to appreciate that these depths are not only the place of agony and despair but also the space of profound reality and honesty, the place where I am most me, the heart where the murmur of Jesus’ voice can be heard and where I am open to hear. This the place of my deepest self, the place we call the soul.
And Jesus never misses an opportunity to respond to such patient and repeated prayer from the depths of our souls: “My soul is waiting for the Lord. I count on his word. My soul is longing for the Lord more than watchman for daybreak. (Let the watchman count on daybreak and Israel on the Lord.)”
In this way the depths transcend the heights, and the heights are discovered in the depths of the soul.
Tragically most people prefer to live on a narrow shelf in the mid-range of experience where the highpoint of the year is the overseas vacation and the low-point is… well we don’t really remember it because we anaesthetised it with alcohol, drugs, money and superficial encounters.”
I read a great article today prompted by the current crisis. The reflection concluded: “What an opportunity this circumstance we are living could become! An opportunity you do not want to miss.” Julian Carron at this link
And today’s psalmist concludes: “Because with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption”.
- Become aware of the things you fear today. The COVID-19 virus may come to mind.
- Now invite Jesus to reveal your real fear to you. You may be surprised at what comes to mind. Spend time throughout the day remembering this revelation, and speak to Jesus about your fear, and listen to his response while noticing his gaze towards you.