Monday, 1 December 2014
Overwhelmed: A Psalm for Christmas
Tis the season…to be overwhelmed. The countdown to Christmas has started.
It’s not only the shopping and baking and decorating and wrapping and shipping, it’s that we can’t hit the pause button on the rest of life. I just got off the phone with my daughter. She’s overwhelmed with papers and projects and exams as the end of semester looms. A friend just emailed. Her life has been turned upside down by the adoption of three children from Africa. A pal just moved across the country. She’s overwhelmed by a flooded basement, a husband who’s traveling, and a house to unpack.
Out of my depth
Feeling overwhelmed is like walking out into the ocean and suddenly stepping into a trough. The bottom drops away. I start flailing. My feet churn to find solid ground. The realization dawns. I’m out of my depth! Are you there too?
God has a psalm for you and me. A psalm for the overwhelmed, Psalm 130.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
When we’re out of our depth, we’re at the mercy of the waters. Whether it’s sins or trials, we suddenly realize we’re in over our head. We turn to the only One who is greater than the waters. It’s his mercy we need.
Our instinctive cry for help gets throttled before it leaves our throat. Our conscience protests:
- But I’m the one that got me into this mess
- But I don’t deserve his help, not with what I did yesterday.
- But if I had more faith, I wouldn’t be struggling.
But…but…but. Are your prayers being silenced? If so, it’s time to pay attention to his “but…”
If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
With you there is forgiveness! Forgiveness removes every obstacle that places itself between me and my Lord. No sin, no failure, no weakness, no circumstance, no evil can block my prayers. Jesus came to remove every barrier that separates me from God, by his sinless life and sacrificial death.
What better time to remember this than Christmas?
Forgiveness is just the beginning of his mercy. You see, when we’re out of our depth, we don’t just need forgiveness, we need him. His presence is what we need. And that’s what we are given.
I’ve read this Psalm many times, but only today did I catch those two little words with you. They are repeated with variations three times:
- With you there is forgiveness (v. 4)
- With the LORD there is steadfast love (v. 7)
- With him there is plentiful redemption (v. 7)
Because of Jesus we are “with him.” He is our Immanuel. His coming brought God from the heights into the depths. That means we are never abandoned to the mercy of the waves. A mere whimper of faith brings him near. “With him” we have every mercy we need in our depths. Cry out to him and receive.
And have a very Merry Christmas!