When all that we have come to rely on, including ourselves, proves fragile; where do we turn for reassurance? 

A Reflection on Psalm 30 verses 6-8
by Paul Lawlor 13 May 2020

6    In my prosperity I said,
‘I shall never be moved. 
You, Lord, of your goodness,
have made my hill so strong.’

7    Then you hid your face from me 
and I was utterly dismayed.

8    To you, O Lord, I cried; 
to the Lord I made my supplication:

It is being reported that one in four people have tuned in to a religious service during this time of lockdown. Many of us will be thinking about what is important in life. The expensive car on the drive might not be so important at present.   People and relationships may feel much more significant.

How do the feelings and thoughts we were having at the start of 2020 compare to our thoughts and emotions now?  As I read these words from Psalm 30 recently I was struck by how the writer of the psalm is showing the difference in how we relate to God in good times and in bad.

In my prosperity I said, ‘I shall never be moved. 

When things are going well, we tend to look to ourselves. 
We might think to thank God. You, Lord, of your goodness, have made my hill so strong.’

I say might; I do not always and, anyway, it is still “my hill” that is strong. When things are good, relying on my own skills and strength, I am confident. I can rejoice in the work of my hands.

In the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown there are so many unknowns and, all of a sudden, we cannot rely on our own skills and strengths. We might seek to blame someone. We might blame God for action or inaction in the present.

Then you hid your face from me and I was utterly dismayed.

Praying through the storm

In these times, when there is nowhere to turn, we can find ourselves searching for answers. The comfort of retail therapy does not satisfy, and the noise of life has been turned down.  We cannot simply go out with friends to drown out our concern with activity.

So, have you turned to prayer in some way? As the saying goes, ‘There are no atheists in a foxhole…’

To you, O Lord, I cried; to the Lord I made my supplication.

Perhaps we are doing this now; but what will happen when Lockdown comes to an end?   It may take a while for us to return to “prosperity”, but when that time comes and we start to rely on our own strength again, will we forget about God? Rather than us feeling that God has “hid his face from us”, will we, once again, turn our faces away from Him?

Yes, let us turn to Him now, let us cry out to God, God who was willing to come and live as one of us, to die and rise again to open the gates of heaven to us. But let us not forget about that same God when, as they will, the good times return.  In the meantime, let us pray for God’s healing to move in our land.

Psalm 30

8            To you, O Lord, I cried,
    and to the Lord I made supplication:

9            “What profit is there in my death,
    if I go down to the Pit?
Will the dust praise you?
    Will it tell of your faithfulness?

10          Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me!
    O Lord, be my helper!”

11         You have turned my mourning into dancing;
    you have taken off my sackcloth
    and clothed me with joy,

12         so that my soul[b] may praise you and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

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