The sun’s intensity pushed me toward any shaded spot I could find.
We were just south of the Judean desert, close to the Dead Sea, in Israel. And it was H-O-T, fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk hot. From the heights of Masada, we were able to see for miles. Beige and brown. An eye-full of arid. Heights and depths. Dust and dirt. Almost no life, save that of a few date palms. The smatterings of shade I found made the desert heat less draining and more bearable, but those pockets of reprieve were hard to come by.
The writer of Psalm 102 was looking for shade as well.
1 Lord, hear my prayer;
let my cry for help come before you.
2 Do not hide your face from me in my day of trouble.
Listen closely to me;
answer me quickly when I call.
3 For my days vanish like smoke,
and my bones burn like a furnace.
4 My heart is suffering, withered like grass;
I even forget to eat my food.
5 Because of the sound of my groaning,
my flesh sticks to my bones.
6 I am like an eagle owl,
like a little owl among the ruins.
7 I stay awake;
I am like a solitary bird on a roof.
8 My enemies taunt me all day long;
they ridicule and use my name as a curse.
9 I eat ashes like bread
and mingle my drinks with tears
10 because of your indignation and wrath;
for you have picked me up and thrown me aside.
11 My days are like a lengthening shadow,
and I wither away like grass.
The psalmist wants a reprieve from the scorching heat of discouragement (v4), pain (v3), toxic relationships (v8) and unrest (v7). He felt abandoned by God (v10). Forgotten. Crushed. Broken in spirit and body.
I, too, have walked through some arid, scorching deserts of life over the years. The agony of watching my dad suffer the final six months of his life was excruciating. Feelings of helplessness bullied the faith I fought to hang on to. Questions led the dialog in my mind. Gone were the days of plenty. Gone were the days of strength. The desert of my dad’s suffering was brutal and cruel.
And as much as I hated the distress and desolation cancer brought to my family, I held tight to the provision and compassion of God.
A provision and compassion the psalmist gripped too, given by the same eternal (v12), compassionate (v13) God.
12 But you, Lord, are enthroned forever;
your fame endures to all generations.
13 You will rise up and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to show favor to her—
the appointed time has come.
Psalm 102 is an honest cry for help from a hurting human. The author was in a major life pit. A depressing, broken place of agony. And He threw down quite the lament as he poured out his pain before God. After emptying his heart of angst, however, we see a major change take place when he shifted from focusing on his challenges to focusing on his Creator.
25 Long ago you established the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you will endure;
all of them will wear out like clothing.
You will change them like a garment,
and they will pass away.
27 But you are the same,
and your years will never end.
28 Your servants’ children will dwell securely,
and their offspring will be established before you.
Ah! I see this and take note.
When shade is scarce and pockets of reprieve are hard to come by, we can find comfort and strength knowing that our unchanging God is active, responsive and merciful at all times.
“The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.” (Psalm 121:5-6)
We can rest in the promise that the One who laid the foundations of the earth in the beginning (v25) remains the same (v27) and will one day make all things new for those who know and love Him.
Thank You for being my Shade in every desert. You hear me and are responsive even in times when I feel forgotten, discouraged and abandoned. Help this truth inform my heart and hope.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE
What has you desperate for shade today?
How does it encourage you to know that God will shield you from pains and strains when you call out to Him as your Shade?
I’d love to pray for you today. Meet me on the wall of my blog and share your heart in the comments section.
Love you, friend.
Feel like giving up? Learn how God wants to bring you beyond your past heart-wounds and your present challenges to His wholeness, strength and beauty. Broken into Beautiful is a book filled with stories – real stories … gritty and honest, not cleaned up and phony. It’s also filled with Scripture that will inspire you toward the life-changing grace of Jesus. To order the book, go to Amazon or, for a signed copy, visit Gwen’s web store.