But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
“Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”
Reflection – Donna Fitch
I find this passage painful to read. I’ve felt the way the psalmist does, sometimes because someone has actually scorned me, but far more often because I imagine this is how people think of me. It’s a bleak outlook, easy to cultivate in these uncertain days.
More forcefully it reminds me of Jesus on the cross, suffering not only physical abuse, but also emotional and spiritual trauma. He quotes from this psalm on the cross in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?” But that’s not the end of the story.
In a 2014 blog post, Bishop Doug Fisher of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts suggests approaching Lent/Easter as a continuum, illustrating his meaning with Psalm 22 and 23 together. Rather than reading them separately, he suggests taking them as a whole, from the tone of extreme distress of a person who feels far away from God in Psalm 22 to the close caring of the shepherd in Psalm 23. Despite “all dire circumstances,” the psalmist “keeps praising God…keeps looking for deliverance.” What holds the two psalms together, the bishop writes, is “the faithfulness of God. God is present even when God seems absent to us.”
I must quote his illustration in its entirety because of its relation to Crosscreek. You’ll understand why in a moment.
“I saw Psalm 22/23 lived out a few years ago,” Bishop Fisher writes, “in a news report from Haiti. It was one week after the earthquake that killed tens of thousands and destroyed so much of the country. Workers shifting through the rubble of a collapsed building found a woman still alive. She had a broken leg and she was so dehydrated that she could not speak. But as her rescuers carried her out on a stretcher, they saw she was mouthing the words of a hymn of praise to God. They knew the hymn so they started singing it aloud with her. It was a moment of Resurrection.
But was God only there in that moment? In that Psalm 23 moment? Or was God also with her in those seven days when she laid buried in rubble, screaming herself hoarse pleading for help? In that Psalm 22 moment?
Our faith tells us that God was there throughout. In the pain and the joy. In what felt like death and in the rescue.”
A Brief Prayer
Our Father, help us to love and trust you no matter what our circumstances and no matter our trials. Help us always to be faithful to you. Amen.