Archive for June 23rd, 2010
Consider my affliction and my travail; and forgive all my sins. Psalm 25:18
Consider – David isn’t like me. At least he’s not like me in his wholehearted cry to the Lord. We may share other things. His faults maybe my faults, but God Himself recognized that David continued in faithful direction even if he was derailed once in awhile. I am more like the description of the spiritually impoverished man in Abraham Heschel’s words, “We do not refuse to pray. We merely feel that our tongue is tied, our mind inert, our inner vision dim, when we are about to enter the door that leads to prayer. We do not refuse to pray; we abstain from it. We ring the hollow bell of selfishness, rather than absorb the stillness that surrounds the world,”
I want to pray. I want to listen to the voice of my God. I desperately need His comforting reassurance, the symphony of His care. At times my concerns for those I love overcome my trepidation, my unworthiness, and I stammer affirmation of His sovereignty. I know He cares. I know He even cares about me, but I feel His silence as if a vise closed around my body. Why? God has not abandoned me. I have failed Him. When I am derailed by circumstance, emotion or temptation, I miss the mark of His blessing. I find myself on a spur, switched to another direction. I cease to pray because I know that I am not on the main line and I don’t know what to do about it. How often I need to remember Brother Lawrence’s straightforward approach to sin. Repent, accept the unwavering grace of the Lord, trust His word of faithful comfort, and get back on the track.
David is able to ask God to “consider” his affliction and travail. This is a noble word from a broken heart. Ra’ah (to see) is metaphorical for looking into the heart of a matter. No one hiding from the Lord would ever ask to be considered. Adam did not want the Lord to consider him. He wanted to cover his shame (which was not nakedness, by the way) and hide. I am much more like Adam than David. But David is a son of Abraham, and so am I. There is hope for me too. Even when I hide, God asks, in surprise, why I am not standing by His side. He expects me to be there. That is my destiny. He is always surprised when I do not fulfill the purpose for which I was born. His surprise is my shame. I don’t want to be like this – afraid to pray. I want conversation with Him. I want to be known, but because I know my own faults and failures so well, I simply can’t imagine that there is a God who could love me in spite of them. And the cancer in my imagination, that tumor of disbelief, really shouts out how little I actually trust Him. He promises to forgive me when I come in contrite humiliation. It is only my distorted sense of rebellion and unworthiness that prevents His promise from affecting my life. It isn’t that I want to pray but am unable. It is that I refuse to pray because I am unwilling. I am unwilling to admit that my failure is not grounds for His rejection, that there is no inverted pride in spiritual distance and that He loves me when I do not love Him or me.
“Consider.” Lord, look at me. Yes, I know you will often find things I detest, things I do not want to see, things I pretend are not me. But look anyway. And peel away the layers of my resistance. Remove the scales so that what I know may become what I see too. Let me see me as you see me. Consider my afflictions. They start here, in me.
Topical Index: consider, affliction, ra’ah, see, Psalm 25:18
 Abraham Heschel, Spiritual Audacity and Moral Grandeur, p. 340.