There are times when we feel like nobody cares about us. Sometimes, we feel all alone. That sense of being alone in the world is brutal. It lays us bare. It can feel like a million pounds is weighing us down.
This sense of being alone in the world and that nobody cares is not something new. It is common to the human experience.
In Psalm 123 we have a song where the people of God are recognizing that sense of being beaten up, ignored, uncared for, and alone in the world.
As they ascend the mountain toward the Temple they sing,
I raise my eyes to you— you who rule heaven. Just as the eyes of servants attend to their masters’ hand, just as the eyes of a female servant attend to her mistress’ hand— that’s how our eyes attend to the Lord our God until he has mercy on us. Have mercy on us, Lord! Have mercy because we’ve had more than enough shame. We’ve had more than enough mockery from the self-confident, more than enough shame from the proud.
Pay attention! This song should leave you scratching your head. It should challenge your preconceived notions about how the Scriptures talk about God.
These worshipers are equating God to their slave masters! At first we can try to sanitize the song by saying that they are looking to God to meet their needs like their masters do. We could say that these were probably benevolent masters.
We can try that approach. But, then the song breaks down at the end. The last verse wouldn't make any sense.
No, these are hurting people who are crying out to God that they feel like he is mocking them and shaming them. Just like their masters. They are demanding mercy from their God.
As they ascend they are singing authentically and honestly. They are coming to God with heartache and heartbreak on their lips. They demand mercy, a mercy that they would never expect from their masters.
This is the difference: the hope of mercy.
Even though they feel uncared for... alone... mocked... and shamed... they still hope for mercy!
Too many people who say they follow Jesus live in fear of being honest about how they actually feel. So many of us think that we can't say to God, “I feel like you're mean. I feel like you don't care. I feel alone. WHERE ARE YOU!?”
The reality is that we can.
We can cry out to God. We can demand mercy. We can say it feels like he's mocking us.
We can do all these things and God will still love us. He will not push us away. God will come alongside, unlike the masters.
How do we know there is hope? How do we know there is mercy? Because the songs don't stop with Psalm 123. The next song is the answer...
If the Lord hadn’t been for us— let Israel now repeat!— if the Lord hadn’t been for us, when those people attacked us then they would have swallowed us up whole with their rage burning against us! Then the waters would have drowned us; the torrent would have come over our necks; then the raging waters would have come over our necks! Bless the Lord because he didn’t hand us over like food for our enemies’ teeth! We escaped like a bird from the hunters’ trap; the trap was broken so we escaped! Our help is in the name of the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.
The difference between them and us is that they were honest. They cried out to God and yet they also found themselves in God.
How about you? Are you able to be honest with God? Do you find yourself in God?