Preacher: “It is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my kindred, an alien to my mother’s children. It is zeal for your house that has consumed me; the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. When I humbled my soul with fasting, they insulted me for doing so.”
Seeker: The psalmist seems to be lamenting being a believer in the Divine. I guess it was hard for him at times, trying to follow a faith & spiritual journey that others did not readily or easily understand.
Preacher: The psalmist speaks for himself, but also for those in ministry now. Even in our seemingly enlightened day and age, Christians have been misunderstood and maligned. It feels like so much abuse and oppressive behavior has been done by Christian who have not rightly aligned themselves to Christ’s example.
Seeker: Have you, Preacher, been subject to derision from non-believers?
Preacher: From non-believers and believers who has substituted their own agenda and attitudes for those of Christ’s. “When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them. I am the subject of gossip for those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me.”
Seeker: I did not know or realize it was so hard for you. I guess I just assumed that the integrity and sincerity of your beliefs has won over those who know and know of you. How do you manage in the hard times?
Preacher: “But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me. With your faithful help rescue me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters.”
Seeker: I have to admit, not everyone I know and who knows me have understood why I have chosen this path; or why I have let it – in fact – have deliberately sought for it to change my life. “Do not let the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the Pit close its mouth over me.”
Preacher & Seeker: “Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.”
Preacher: Why have you not spoken about this before, Seeker?
Seeker: I guess, well, because I thought it was, well . . . . . it was to somehow test my faith. And, well, not speaking much about it would prove that my faith is strong. But if the psalmist speaks of it, and you Preacher have experienced, maybe it is less about me and my strength of faith and more about how others view Christian faith. Or more precisely, Christian faith that is modeled as closely to Christ’s example as humanly possible.
Preacher: You don’t ever have to pretend that non-believers or scoffers of you faith don’t affect you. Even Jesus Christ lamented that there were those who did not believe in him. Of course, there non-belief in the Divine had and will have larger consequences than non-belief in our faith. And you can always come to the Lord God if you feel wounded.
Seeker: “Do not hide your face from your servant, for I am in distress–make haste to answer me.” The psalmist pray and plea is a good example of petitioning the Divine.
Preacher: “Draw near to me, redeem me, set me free because of my enemies.” (Psalm 69:7-18) I wonder if the psalmist felt that his enemies would pull him down and undo all that the Lord God had done for and with the psalmist. That is a heavy fear to carry around. Make a pact with me, Seeker, that before our faith is undone we will come to each other and the Divine to shore us up and keep our faith intact and whole.
Seeker: Shalom & Selah, Preacher!