Based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Growing in Grace is a blog by Pastor Matthew Molesky. His posts explore the Bible, theology, ecclesiology, culture, books, family, and life.

The Jarring Prose of The Psalmist (part one)

I have a morning routine: awake, rub the sleep from my eyes, will myself out of bed, determine to get the brain online, pray for my cold heart to get warm, and move as quickly as I can toward brewing a fresh pot of French Pressed coffee.

And all of that is toward the end of getting in the chair, with Bible, pencil, and journal, with a desperate desire for the pleasure of the Father's company.

In this current season, my reading has been primarily in the Psalms. I've needed a helpful voice for my prayers, help for my conversation with the Father. It has been my hope the Psalmists would guide me. But this morning, the guidance was different from what I was looking for (though, writing this six hours later, I've discovered it is exactly what I needed). For this morning I experienced the jarring prose of the Psalmist, and it landed on my dry heart with explosive force.

Have you ever seen the Ford TV commercials? When that heavy emblem lands on dry, parched ground, in an explosion of dirt and dust?

That is what one little bit of prose felt like from the Psalmist this morning. One little word from Psalm 22, landing, breaking, shattering...

"Yet you are holy..."

The only way you will feel the force of that phrase is to know its context, Psalm 22:1-2:

            1       My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? 
      Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 
            2       O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, 
      and by night, but I find no rest.

You can feel the weight of what David is going through in these sentences, but only if you ponder this powerful prose for a moment, and enter into his experience. It is probably not too hard, as I would imagine you have felt, at times in your life, as he has felt. 

"Forsaken." Whether it is true or not, David feels as if God has renounced his allegiance to him, given up on the relationship, and abandoned and deserted him.

"So far..." Do you sense the hurt in his voice, and in his heart? So far, that he cannot save. So far, that he is unable to even hear his all-the-way-down-to-the-depths-of-his-soul groanings.

"I cry..." Words are not the only way that David reveals his heart. His tears are also an expression of his distress and pain. Water flowing down his cheeks attended by anguished wails all day long.

" night...I find no rest." Intense emotion does not easily lend itself to sleep. David tosses and turns. It is an unkind paradox of emotional distress: intense emotions drain us, and leave us exhausted, but then, at the very point we need rest, sleep flees from us. It is a bitter irony.

And then, this jarring phrase.

"Yet, you are holy."

Wait, what?

There he is, on his knees, pouring out his heart. His feelings and emotions have been washing over him in waves, for days. He is exhausted and spent. There are no reserves left. He's at the end of himself. And then, a slow, deep from within him sigh of realization. Despite all this, regardless of the way David feels, God hasn't changed. His situation doesn't change who God is. Raising his head (which to this point has been bent low to the ground), he confesses the holiness of God. His reality, as difficult as it may be (read Psalm 22:6-8; 12-18; 20-21) does not take away from the purity, righteousness...the goodness of God.

"Yet, you are holy..."

These four words, this jarring prose from the Psalmist, is immensely important for our praying and living. They have the potential to deliver us from our circumstances, while our circumstances remain the same. They show us that the way to true praying is a knowledge of the Holy One. And pressing into them is to open the door to contentment.

More on this tomorrow...

The Jarring Prose of the Psalmist (part two)

On Thanksgiving