Yesterday was a hard day for me, I’ll explain in just a bit. Maybe some of you have experienced hard days yourself, and will be able to relate. My mind remembered a passage from the Psalms when David was experiencing a hard time in deserted places. Psalm 63: 1-8…1 O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. 3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. 4 So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name. 5 My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips 6 when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
This Psalm has been titled “A Psalm of David when he was in the Wilderness of Judah.” There were some significant times in David’s life when he found himself in the wilderness of Judah, this particular Psalm was composed after the third andfinal time David dwelt in the wilderness. It was in this time that David was fleeing from his son Absalom who had fomented a revolt against his father and wasseeking to kill him. David found himself feeling alone and desperate, in a desolate place. Can you hear in the words David’s desire to be in God’s presence? Although he is alone and in a wilderness, his desire is to praise God for God’s love. David acknowledges God has been his help in the past, and realizes God continues to be with him even in that moment. David can think of nothing but praising God.
I said to you, yesterday was a hard day for me. Yesterday was significant to me for a number of reasons. Yesterday was my birthday, I turned 62. Yesterday was also Antoine’s birthday, he would have been 47. Yesterday was also the day I brought Antoine home from the hospital and he was placed on hospice a year ago.
I knew this day was coming, and I was dreading it with everything I have in me. I’ve been working through my grief with a therapist, and I felt like I was making progress. But November 2nd was coming and I knew it would be difficult. Ipurposely took vacation during this time, to withdraw and hopefully find some time to be alone. I came to Palm Springs, California. If you haven’t been here, its in the desert, almost two hours from Los Angeles. It finds itself in the Coachella Valley, surrounded by the San Jacinto mountains. From my room, I look out on the mountains. The mountains are very rugged, rocky, and dry. The whole area is hot and dry. If not for the resorts and developments, this area would be exceedingly desolate.
The desolation of the area and the mountains, I thought would be a good place for the coming day. The bleakness, the cragginess, the dryness were all what I felt the day was going to be for me. As I sat and looked at the mountains, they seemed to echo the emptiness I was feeling.
All of a sudden, this Psalm of David came to mind. David was in a desperate and sad place in his life. What he remembered was how God had always upheld him, sheltered him in the safety of his wings. David’s lips were moved and his hands were raised to praise God in that desolate place. David knew God had never forsaken him, and was continually with him. This struck a strong chord in me. Why was I dreading this day so? Yes, Antoine’s death left me desolate and feeling very alone. Yes, there have been times over this past year where I had the feeling of emptiness beyond description.
When I read the first words of this Psalm, it was resonating in my soul…” O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” That’s it exactly! That’s what I was feeling. I was feeling that my soul had wandered into a dry and weary land in my grief. I needed God to hold me and to let me know I could make it through even this time. I read, and re-read this portion of the Psalm. It occurred to me, David’s solution to his aloneness, his emptiness, his feelings of isolation, were to praise God! David was moved to give God the praise for all the blessings God had bestowed on him, for all the times God had seen him through his hard times. That was the word I needed to hear. I looked again on the mountains, they were still dry and weary looking. But what I observed was, there were more mountains behind those I could see. Those mountains had green foliage on them, they had signs of life. Even in the midst of my dry and weary time, there was the hope and the signs of God’s renewal and support. There were green places to be seen, there was the sense God was at work in those mountains, and God was at work in my soul.
When we find ourselves in those times in our lives we dread and just know are seeking to bring us lower than low, we need to remember all the times God has brought us through similar times. God upholds us, God IS with us in every place. You and me have so much to praise God for, to give God the glory and honor for God’s steadfast love and presence in our lives.
Did my grief suddenly disappear? No, but what did appear was God walking with me, assuring me of the eternal life God had received Antoine into. Antoine is at peace and living eternally with the same God that was holding me in the palm of his hand.
Wherever you may find yourself, know that God is with you. Whatever situation seems so enormous and threatening to undermine you, God’s joy is present. Whenever your soul is thirsty and there seems to be no relief, God will quench your thirst and you too will raise your hands and part your lips in praise.Our God is sufficient to cover all we need, even when we find ourselves in dry and weary places.
May God’s presence be felt every day by you, and may you sense that presence and praise God for his everlasting love.
Blessings and Peace,