Psalm 102:2 Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly… 19 "The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, 20 to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death."
This psalm has a subtitle, “the prayers of an afflicted man”. The first 11 verses express his despair. The last 17 tell us of his hope, the Lord’s goodness and the Lord’s faithfulness to His people. Often psalms start with negative, hopeless, despairing statements and end with praise, thanksgiving and joy. It is a pattern that is not uncommon to believers.
One time when Bonnie wrote an exam for a course, she was distraught with how poorly she thought she did. She was sure she had failed. She went into a lament over how hard she had studied and worked for this exam but where was the Lord? She had done her part but He had failed her. I tried to reassure her it would be ok and kind of reprimanded her for blaming the Lord for her perceived failure. When she received the exam back, she had the highest mark in the room, way above the other students. Ironically she got only one question wrong, which all the other students got right. She was very appreciative of His kindness and blessing as well as a bit contrite over her rant at Him the day before.
The truth is we often see the negative side of every situation. The popular remedy for this is to ignore the negative through positive confession. This doesn’t always work. The solution is to acknowledge both. When we do, we see the power of God released to bring change. This is what our two highlighted scriptures do: one expressing the fear and despair, the other acknowledging God’s response to our pleas. A very simplistic analogy would be a car battery. If we want to get power from it, we will fail by placing the cables both on the negative or both on the positive. But if we put one cable on the negative and one on the positive, we release the power contained within the battery. If we acknowledge our inability or fears to Him and then apply His love and faithfulness to our situation, we will see Him move on our behalf.
Verses 19 and 20 say that the Lord looks down from heaven and hears the groans of the prisoners and those who are condemned to death. Do you know what He did for us? He sent His son. Jesus’ first address to the people in the synagogue came from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah where He quoted: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18,19) The highlighted words are His answer to those who find themselves in a very negative situation. He is our answer when we are most despairing for Jesus is the year of the Lord’s favor.
Prayer: “Father, I call upon you in my moments of despair and hopelessness to deliver me. I receive your love and grace, which will never fail me. Amen.”