March 28, 2023: The Other Half

Reading: Psalm 31:9-16

9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away.
11 I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.
12 I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the whispering of many— terror all around!— as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.1
16 Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.



There is no sugar-coating this one. These verses start out bleak. Okay, half of the reading is bleak. It reminds me of the song from the old show Hee Haw that went something like Gloom, despair, and agony on me…. The psalmist really lets it all out here and it’s not pretty. Not all rainbows and ponies. More like the children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Some days are like that. They just are.

But—and this is important—after letting that all out, the psalmist eventually turns to trust in God and to safety in God’s love. It took 5 verses of gut-wrenching distress, but the turnaround came. And, get this, the turnaround was another 5 verses; the other half.

I’ll be the first to admit it. When I’m down it takes more than a few sentences to get my gripes out. I’ll harangue the heck out of an offense or complaint. I could go on forever. At some point though, it must stop. I must stop. Turn around. Speak words of trust and love. To myself. To whoever has gotten the brunt of it. To God. And perhaps spend the same amount of words, energy, and time on that. The other half.

–Ruth Gates



Dear God, be merciful when I am in distress and grow weak. I trust in you. Save me in your unfailing love.