Lenten Devotional 2021: Day 43

Wednesday, March 31 – Calling Upon God in Distress in New Life – By James Aitchison

Psalm 31:9-16

Sometimes it can feel as though the whole world is caving in on us, or as though the ground is disappearing from beneath us. Other times it can feel as though the world and everything in it is out to get us, leaving us alone and afraid. The Psalmist articulates this desolation from such authentic depth, inviting us to recognize these same shadowy places within ourselves. And although none of us (I trust) have actually faced the dire straits laid out in this Psalm – people scheming against us as they plot to take our lives – that doesn’t mean we haven’t felt like it from time to time! We have all been in crisis at some point – feeling like a broken vessel – and the Psalmist’s voice can speak for us in our sorrow, our grief, our fear, and our isolation. Even though our enemies and persecutors are likely not vicious or violent people in our lives, that doesn’t mean we don’t experience these feelings. Our enemies are more likely internal adversaries – voices and vices crippling us and crumpling us up into nothing.

When we can’t find the words to pray through our deep struggles, the Psalms open us to these fundamental feelings and give voice to our prayer – even if the surface details don’t exactly match. This Psalm can prime us to reignite and deepen our conversation with God, walking us through our pain, confusion, fear and trembling, ushering us to a safe place where we can stand and say, “I trust in you, O Lord, You are my God.” What an incredible power lay in these simple words, spoken from the heart.

After laying out all of our deepest worries and fears at God’s feet, there is nothing left between us – the connection becomes so clear – and we can pray to God straight from our hearts, “Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.” God will always respond, whether we notice or not.

Continue praying through your struggles, beloved ones – and if you can’t find your own voice, let the Psalms guide you.


God of compassion,
Be gracious to us as we seek your face.
Walk beside us in our struggles,
whether or not we feel your presence.
When the world seems to be wrapping its hands around our throats,
give voice to the prayers on our hearts.
Shine upon us in our hour of fear and despair,
reigniting your light of hope and faith,
guiding us home to you.
We pray this as we follow in Jesus’ way,