But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not delay!
Psalm 70:5 (NRSV)
Psalm 70 is part of the daily lectionary reading for the Wednesday of Holy Week. We can see how it fits into the overall theme of the week. Can you imagine Jesus praying over this Psalm in the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before his arrest?
When we are facing stresses that others may not understand, we often feel lonely. It can even be in the midst of friends and family. As Jesus prayed in the garden, he found his disciples sleeping. "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour?" (Mark 14:37, NRSV). I think that Jesus may have felt lonely in his time of trial even though his disciples were with him initially. They soon deserted him and he was left truly alone.
As we encounter loneliness, studies have shown that it is actually contagious. This seems counter-intuitive. If you are around others, why are you lonely? This shows us that it is more about mindset than the proximity of others.
Since this is a human condition that all people experience at some point in life, our goal would then be to reduce the amount of loneliness that we experience ourselves so that we don't pass it on to others.
Pulling others out of the pit is part of the call of Christian faith. Yet at the same time we must be sensitive to what is going on in their lives. Grieving and loss elicit real feelings that shouldn't be glossed over. But pessimism about some of the daily things of life can be turned around.
Hold up the mirror to yourself: do you tend toward pessimism or optimism?
As we journey with Jesus to the cross, we are reminded that there are tasks we each face that are hard if not downright deplorable. How we choose to face these is up to each of us.
But we are also reminded that we don't face them alone.
Photo by Arief Rahman Saan (Ezagren) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons