The Daily Office: Day 72- Wanting to Escape it All
Silence for 2-5 minutes:
If your mind wanders, silently pray a simple prayer again and again, such as, "I surrender to your love" or "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me" until the Holy Spirit gives you a sense of peace and focus.
1 Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy! 2 Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan, 3 because of the noise of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked. For they drop trouble upon me, and in anger they bear a grudge against me.
4 My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me. 5 Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. 6 And I say, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; 7 yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah 8 I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest."
9 Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues; for I see violence and strife in the city. 10 Day and night they go around it on its walls, and iniquity and trouble are within it; 11 ruin is in its midst; oppression and fraud do not depart from its marketplace.
12 For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me— then I could hide from him. 13 But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. 14 We used to take sweet counsel together; within God's house we walked in the throng. 15 Let death steal over them; let them go down to Sheol alive; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.
16 But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. 17 Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. 18 He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. 19 God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, Selah because they do not change and do not fear God.
20 My companion[b] stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. 21 His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.
22 Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
23 But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you.
Have you ever just wanted to escape the pressures of life? We all have. David faces such stress in his life that he envies the birds who can seemingly just fly away from all trouble. Oh, that he was like that bird! Just to be able to forget what is going on and find rest would be the most beautiful thing. David's conflict of the soul is so immense that he experiences horror and physical tremors.
David has been betrayed by an intimate friend, which makes this the worst kind of emotional battle. When a friend, family member, brother, or sister in Christ betrays, it becomes almost unbearable. I have experienced this sort of duplicity in the context of church leadership, and when it happens, you just do not know what to do. Sometimes you want to strike out at the unfairness of it all. Sometimes you want to defend yourself against the murmuring and gossip. Yet, more often than not, you are called to be silent and just cast this heavy burden upon the Lord.
Jesus was betrayed by one of his own disciples. I really believe that Judas played a much more significant role in the ministry of Jesus than we will ever know. The gospel writers seemed to write Judas out of the story because of his treachery; however, John gives us a clue of just how dear a friend Judas was to Jesus.
Michael Card writes:
Judas is sitting on Jesus' immediate left. In Judaism, this was referred to as the place of the intimate friend. There is a possibility that Jesus and Judas were far closer friends than any of the Gospels can bring themselves to say.
Card, Michael. John: The Gospel of Wisdom (The Biblical Imagination Series) (pp. 155-156). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
I once heard someone say, if you want to be like Jesus, then there will have to be a Judas in your life. That is probably truer than I would like to admit.
David has a practice of prayer, where he stops three times a day to seek the Lord. During this time of crisis, David says that his prayer times are just times of moaning and complaint. Sometimes we are so overwhelmed that this is all we can manage to do in prayer, and God gladly hears our cry. Perhaps, this David's formula for casting his burden upon the Lord.
Peter references this Psalm when he writes:
Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
The Greek word for cares is merimna and it means to be torn in many directions. God hears our moaning and complaint. He knows how fractured our soul has become The fact that Jesus cares for us and bears the heavy burdens of life, pieces back together our fractured soul and makes us whole.
What burden do you need to cast upon Jesus today? Cry out to him throughout the day until your soul is pieced back together and made whole by his care for you.
O Lord, life is filled with many struggles, which make me think I can't take any more. The only way to deal with these crushing pressures is to cast my heavy burden upon you. Like David, I will cry and moan until the weight is lifted. Thank you for bearing the burdens I cannot bear. Thank you for caring so deeply for me. Amen.