By Christin Ditchfied Lazo

A Reading from Psalm 31

1 In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.

2 Incline your ear to me;
make haste to deliver me.

3 Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,
for you are my crag and my stronghold;
for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.

4 Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me,
for you are my tower of strength.

5 Into your hands I commend my spirit,
for you have redeemed me,
O LORD, O God of truth.

6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols,
and I put my trust in the LORD.

7 I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy;
for you have seen my affliction;
you know my distress.

8 You have not shut me up in the power of the enemy;
you have set my feet in an open place.

9 Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am in trouble;
my eye is consumed with sorrow,
and also my throat and my belly.

10 For my life is wasted with grief,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails me because of affliction,
and my bones are consumed.

11 I have become a reproach to all my enemies and
even to my neighbors,
a dismay to those of my acquaintance;
when they see me in the street they avoid me.

12 I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind;
I am as useless as a broken pot.

13 For I have heard the whispering of the crowd;
fear is all around;
they put their heads together against me;
they plot to take my life.

14 But as for me, I have trusted in you, O LORD.
I have said, “You are my God.

15 My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies,
and from those who persecute me.

16 Make your face to shine upon your servant,
and in your loving-kindness save me.”

17 LORD, let me not be ashamed for having called upon you;
rather, let the wicked be put to shame;
let them be silent in the grave.

18 Let the lying lips be silenced which speak against
the righteous,
haughtily, disdainfully, and with contempt.

19 How great is your goodness, O LORD!
which you have laid up for those who fear you;
which you have done in the sight of all
for those who put their trust in you.

20 You hide them in the covert of your presence from those
who slander them;
you keep them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.

21 Blessed be the LORD!
for he has shown me the wonders of his love in a
besieged city.

22 Yet I said in my alarm,
“I have been cut off from the sight of your eyes.”
Nevertheless, you heard the sound of my entreaty
when I cried out to you.

23 Love the LORD, all you who worship him;
the LORD protects the faithful,
but repays to the full those who act haughtily.

24 Be strong and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the LORD.

Meditation

One of the great gifts of the psalms is that they teach us the language of lament. They show us how to be openly, achingly, heart-breakingly real with God about our grief, our hurt or anger or frustration, our discouragement and despair.

The psalms show us that we don’t need to come to God trying to sound all perfect and pious and put-together. We don’t have to paste on a fake smile and spout a bunch of spiritual-sounding cliches or platitudes. Just as the psalmist did, we can be brutally honest. We can speak our truth — pour out our pain — express our complaints specifically, and our feelings directly.

Because God can handle it. None of it is a shock or a surprise to him. He sees our hearts. He knows our thoughts. He understands. He made us, after all. And he has compassion toward us.

When we weep, he weeps with us.

So the psalms encourage us to keep turning our hurting hearts toward God, even in the midst of our suffering. Keep returning our focus to his faithfulness — past, present, and future. Keep trusting, keep believing. He will hear our cry, and he will answer us.

Be strong and take courage! He is our refuge. He is our rock. He is our salvation. Our hope is not in ourselves or our own efforts, our wisdom or strength, our resources, our circumstances. No — thank God! — our hope is in him and his eternal, unending, unfailing love for us.

Christin Ditchfield Lazo, Th.M., is a best-selling author, conference speaker, and syndicated radio host, passionate about calling believers to a deeper life of faith.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands (Church in the Province of the West Indies)
Episcopal Church of St. Alban the Martyr, Queens, N.Y.