Psalm 102: 1-4, 12, 18-20, 27-28

1 Hear my prayer, Lord; let my cry for help come to you.
2 Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.
3 For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers.
4 My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food.
12 But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.
18 Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
19 “The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.”
27 But you remain the same, and your years will never end.
28 The children of your servants will live in your presence;
their descendants will be established before you.”

Jeff and I were blessed with grandparents, aunts, and cousins who spent time researching our family tree. We’ve been given names, birthdates, death dates, and in some cases, marriage dates for generations dating back to the 1700s. History tells me that our ancestors lived through wars, famine, sickness, death, loss, political unrest, and even leaving their home country to settle in America. Yet I know very little about each one. I don’t know if any of them were believers in Christ. I don’t know how they handled the emotional stress of the difficulties they went through. The only stories Jeff and I know very well are those of the relatives we were able to spend time with here on earth.

I write this in late 2020. Our country has recently lived through a deadly pandemic and ensuing economic shut-down, intense rioting, and bitter political struggles. It is easy to focus on the difficulties we all have endured this year; honestly, we don’t really know how these struggles will affect us in the months and years to come. The media repeats that we are living in “unprecedented times.”

However, a look into Scripture tells me there is nothing new under the sun. The anonymous author of Psalm 102 knew the Lord, yet he experienced doubt and anxiety in the midst of his troubles. He cried out to the Lord and at times was certain his prayers went no higher than his head, that the Lord hid His face from the author’s distress.

Honestly, I have found myself at the same places as this author. As an “essential worker” during the pandemic, I experienced a wide range of emotions as I struggled going to work in the hospital each day while my family stayed home doing “virtual” work. Anxiety, doubt, anger and hopelessness were often evidenced in my prayers over the past 8 months, maybe like I’ve never experienced before in my Christian walk. The things I knew to be true of the Lord and the words of Scripture I could read were sometimes enough to pull me out of the pit; other times I lingered in worry and self-pity.

Verse 18 stops me in my tracks and puts things into perspective…how can I possibly influence a “people not yet created” so that they may praise the Lord? I can live in community with my immediate family and church family. I can remember the promises of Scripture as I influence my unbelieving coworkers. I can talk honestly about how the stresses of 2020 are affecting me and encourage those around me to trust in the Lord in spite of what we are living through.

Lord, the events of this year did not surprise You. Scripture records how You use events and people to shape history and hearts for Your glory. I long to see how You will use this year to glorify Yourself and your kingdom objectives. I also remember the places my heart has gone during this year, and I see places where doubt and fear were larger than the hope I have in You. Forgive me for those times, and help me remember the ways You tenderly shepherd my heart out of anxiety and into peace. As believers, strengthen Your children to be a force of hope and love in our communities as we move into a new year and new challenges. We long to glorify You…help us to do so in Your strength.

Angi Pierce