As I mentioned in my previous post, I have spent the last week in a setting that helped me to relive, move through and more deeply heal some of the trauma of my life. The deaths of Sheila, Joshua and my marriage have left me with some deep scars.
Only within the past eighteen months have I realized how deeply they still pain me and affect my self-image, my relationship with God and my relationship with others. Recognizing the need for some focused healing, I sought out a means of living through my grief again through some experiential and spiritual therapy. It was painfully but wonderfully meaningful.
I added to that experience my own discipline throughout the week of reading twenty five Psalms a day with the explicit purpose of experiencing the text anew and letting it speak for me. As I read through the Psalms I wrote down in a journal any line that expressed something in my heart. I used the Psalms to surface my feelings, my pain, my anger, and my sin. It was a cathartic exercise.
I decided to read the Psalms in the order they appear in the canon, that is, 1 through 150. I partly moved in this direction since I knew the first three books of the Psalms were largely lament while the last two books of the Psalms were largely praise. I wanted to experience the Psalms as a move through lament to praise, if indeed my heart could feel its way through them in that way.
I know this this is not a historical-critical approach to the Psalms nor the exegetical method that I would recommend or teach. However, it is a form of spiritual reading as I sought to let the Psalms identify with my own experience and allow them to speak for me out of my own pain and hurt. Below are some lines that were particularly meaningful. In future posts, I will focus on some themes or particulars that shaped my healing experience through reading the Psalms. I used the New Living Translation for my reading and quote it below. I have probably provided too many for blog readers…but I have many more written down. 🙂
“I am sick at heart.
How long, O Lord, until you restore me?”
“My problems go from bad to worse.
Oh, save me from them all!
Feel my pain and see my trouble.”
“I am dying from grief;
My years are shortened by sadness.
Misery has drained my strength;
I am wsting away from within.”
“My days are filled with grief…
My groans come from an anguished heart…
Do not stand at a distance, my God.”
Psalm 38:6b, 8b, 21b
“Hear my prayer, O Lord!
Listen to my cries for help!
Don’t ignore my tears…
Spare me so I can smile again.”
“You keep track of all my sorrows,
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
“My eyes are swollen with weeping,
waiting for my God to help me…
I am suffering and in pain.
Rescue me, O God, by your saving power.”
“My life is an example to many…
Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing…
O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood,
and I have constantly told others about the wonderful things you do.
You have allowed me to suffer much hardshp,
but you will restore me to life again.”
Psalm 71:7a, 9b, 17, 20ab
“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains my strength of heart;
he is mine forever.”
“I cry out to the Lord without holding back.
Oh, that God would listen to me!…
There can be no joy for me until he acts.”
Psalm 77:1, 2b.
“Happy are those who are strong in the Lord…
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs,
where pools of blessing collect after the rains.”
Psalm 84:5a, 6
“But even the best of these years are filled with pain and trouble.
Satisfy [me] in the morning with your unfailing love,
so [I] may sing for joy to the end of [my life].”
Psalm 90:10c, 14
“Unless the Lord helped me,
I would soon have died…
When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”
Psalm 94:17a, 18
“Don’t turn away from me in my time of distress.
My heart is sick, withered like grass.
My tears run down into my drink.”
Psalm 102:2ab, 4a, 9b
“My heart is full of pain.
Help me, O Lord my God!
Save me because of your unfailing love.”
Psalm 109:22b, 26
“Now I can rest again,
for the Lord has been so good to me.
He has saved me from death,
my eyes from tears.”
“I weep with grief,
encourage me by your word.
Your promise revives me;
it comforts me in all my troubles.
The suffering you sent was good for me,
for it taught me to pay attention to your principles.
Now let yoru unfailing love comfort me,
just as you promised me, your servant.
I have suffered much, O Lord;
restore my life again, just as you promised.
Do not let my hope be crushed. ”
Psalm 119:28, 50, 71, 76, 107, 116b
“I took my troubles to the Lord;
I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.”
“Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plan their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest.”
“The Lord will work out his plans for my life–
for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
Don’t abandon me, for you made me.”
“I pour out my complaints before him
and I tell him all my troubles.
For I am overwhelmed,
and you alone know the way I should turn.”
“For the glory of your name, O Lord, save me.
In your righteousness, bring me out of this distress.”
“The Lord lifts the burdens of those bent beneath their loads.”
“He heals the brokenhearted,
binding up their wounds.”
“Sing to the Lord a new song,
sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful.
For the Lord delights in his people.”
Psalm 149:1, 4a
“Let everything that lives sing praises to the Lord!
Praise the Lord!”