I was recently denied Social Security Disability benefits because, in my words, I’m not disabled enough. Upon further investigation (and on some level I already knew this), I’ve learned that for my age and with as vague a diagnosis as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I will have to fight to prove my disability. …Welcome doubt and uncertainty! Subsequently, I’ve been asking myself, just how disabled am I? In turn, I’ve felt the need to ignore long established red flag warnings and push past my physical limitations – there’s medication to cover up migraines and caffeine to counter crushing fatigue, right? …In the midst of this inner turmoil I find myself crying out to the Lord, much as the Psalmist does in the two stanzas we’re studying today. Let’s dig in.
Qoph & Resh (Psalm 119:145-160)
Both stanzas open with deep, heart-felt prayers to the Lord.
- I pray with all my heart (v. 145)
- I cry out to you; rescue me (v. 146)
- I rise early…I stay awake at night [praying & meditating] (v. 147-8)
- Look upon my suffering and rescue me (v. 153)
- Argue my case…Protect my life (v. 154)
With these words it is clear that the Psalmist is facing some sort of adversity or opposition. What is equally clear is that he implicitly trusts the Lord to care for and protect him. This makes me marvel at how the Lord must have provided in his past that drives this author to so consistently turn to the Him – and often with praise amidst the storm. Throughout the Old Testament we read about the patriarchs gathering stones and building little monuments to memorialize the spot that they heard from the Lord (for example, Genesis 26:25). I imagine this Psalmist has some too.
I have some. Yet there are still times when it’s hard to live in faith in the midst of the daily challenges of my chronic fatigue/illness. It’s not that I’ve lost my faith or despair of trust in the Lord. No, it’s more of an inability to imagine how the Lord will work out the details, perhaps speaking more to my inflexibility than my convictions in the Lord. What I find intriguing about this Psalmist is his determination to live in faith, regardless of affliction or adversity. In fact, he practically demands rescue:
“See how I love your commandments, Lord. Give back my life because of your unfailing love.” -v. 159
I think it’s important that we pray like that, remembering God’s promises and with full expectation of them. By doing so we stake further claim of God’s word in our hearts and minds, pushing out room for untruth.
I’ve been reminded this week of how important the memorial stone of The Cross is and how it laid the foundation of hope for us. Without Jesus’ death and resurrection there would be no certainty of our future hope. The Lord’s mercy is, indeed, great (v. 156) and by sending us the Holy Spirit we are assured that He is near (v. 151). Jesus said:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” -John 14:1-3
The apostle Paul, himself knowing great affliction, wrote to the Corinthians how this assurance should transform our lives:
“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed [our bodies], we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens…He who has prepared for us this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” – 2 Corinthians 5:1, 5)
In Christ, we are given new life and eternal hope. This truth is the glue that has held me together not only this week, but throughout my battle with chronic fatigue/illness. How does anyone face the challenges of life, let alone chronic affliction, without this knowledge of a certain future?
I challenge you to investigate the substance that holds your life together – is it full of promise and a certain future, like Jesus? At times, I still grieve the loss of the life I wanted. But Jesus is my glue, enabling me to face each day regardless of the challenges in front of me.