by Rachel Mastin
I have always loved the psalms. No matter where you are in life, you can find yourself in the psalms. And when you find yourself, look next to you, or behind you, or in front of you and you can find God, right there with you. Psalm 130 is part of a small group of psalms (120-134) that are sung by pilgrims who are on the road to Zion. And as we know, Zion is on a hill. They are literally, and figuratively, going up, out of the depths as they work through this psalm. We do not have a pure lament, nor are we completely in celebration. Rather these verses move us through different moods and feelings as the pilgrims walk. There are moments of lament, there are moments of celebration, and there moments of many things in between.
Though we could rest anywhere in these eight verses, I think the place that hits the closest for me is in the waiting. Lent is a time of waiting, of reflection, of repentance. The Psalmist is in the depths, cries out to the Lord and then, faithfully and with hope- he waits. The beauty and comfort of verses 5-6 is that you are not waiting alone.
Years ago my father had a liver transplant. It was supposed to be a fairly quick procedure, just five or six hours of surgery. By the time we got to this point we had been waiting for months. Waiting to see if other treatments worked, waiting to see if his cancer had spread, waiting for him to be moved to the top of the transplant list, waiting for the right donor liver to become available. And on this day, a sunny but cool Thursday in November, we sat at that hospital waiting. His surgery didn’t go as planned, and we waited. For twelve hours to talk to his surgeons and another three until we could put our eyes on him and know he had made it through.
I would be lying if I said that we spent that entire time praying, but it was certainly a large part of it for me. My entire family was gathered in the hospital and as we walked the hallways, tried to get information, made small talk with others who were also waiting, and turned to each other to ask what could possibly be taking so long, God was with us. In the frustration, concern, and confusion; in the small talk and the pacing and then, finally, in the relief, God was with us.
As we go about the rest of this lenten season we may linger in the depths, we may be steadily climbing up, not looking back, singing songs of forgiveness and joy on the way. We may bounce back and forth, climbing to the top and falling back down. Wherever we are, may we always know that God is with us, and may we look at our situation with the hope of Jesus Christ.
Rachel Mastin serves as the Christian Formation and Mission Coordinator at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Richmond,VA.