I cry aloud with my voice to the Lord;
I make supplication with my voice to the Lord.
I pour out my complaint before Him;
I declare my trouble before Him.
I’ve been overwhelmed with images of children and parents separated from each other at our southern border. Psalm 142 conjures up feelings of dismay and despair as I picture these vulnerable people crying out for rescue and for the restoration of their families.
They have hidden a trap for me;
Look to the right and see.
For there is no one who regards me,
There is no escape for me,
No one cares for my soul.
It must feel like a “trap” for these parents fleeing the violence and chaos of their homelands and making their way to this so-called “land of the free.” Surely it feels lonely and confusing when they don’t understand the language or the legal system. Even if they accept deportation, how do they leave their children behind?
“No one cares…” I can only imagine their turmoil.
I cried out to You, O Lord;
I said, You are my refuge,
My portion in the land of the living.
Give heed to my cry for I am brought very low…
Remember the story of Moses encountering the bush that burned but was not consumed?
The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them…”
The Psalms speak the truth of lament that transcends nations and centuries. Again and again, throughout the history of the world, people have suffered oppression and affliction. Again and again, they have cried out for deliverance.
Does God intervene in history? That is a faith question with only faith to answer. People of faith have dealt with that dilemma since the beginning of time and have forged their own answers on the anvil of their own experience.
The story of faith and faithfulness that is the Judeo-Christian Scripture expresses this human dilemma and offers numerous answers. The psalms especially represent the gamut of responses to the multi-dimensional reality of living.
Remember how part of the psalmist’s concern is the reputation of the Lord as a Covenant Keeping God. When he cries out for rescue, he hopes his vindication will be witness to all creation that God does intervene and keep faith with God’s people.
In the meantime, people of faith wait. And hope. And work on behalf of those who are suffering.
The righteous will surround me,
For You will deal bountifully with me.
It is this hope – “the righteous will surround me” – that answers the earlier cry that “no one cares.” When our cries join together with the cries of the oppressed, faith tells us that – some how, some way, some time – God will hear and heed and “come down.”
When our work for justice joins together with the ministry of others who pursue righteousness, sometimes WE become the answer to the prayer of the oppressed.
The now iconic photo of the child in the red shirt was taken by John Moore / Getty Images.
The other photo