When we see how small we are, how much loss is part of our lives, how futile life can be, how short our years are when measured against eternity, we can easily get down in the dumps. But — and that is a huge word in this psalm — we can still pray for wisdom, for joy, and for meaning in our lives. Hope can be born each new day.
1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
4 A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.
5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—they are like the new grass of the morning:
6 In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.
7 We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.
17 May the favor[a] of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.
[a] Or beauty
- Walk On: Life, Loss, Trust, and Other Realities, John Goldingay. Written by an Old Testament seminary professor, this is a personal account of how he walks through his wife’s severe disability with the truth of the Old Testament. It is a testimony to hope in the midst of suffering.
- Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope, Joan D. Chittister. The author, using the story of Jacob wrestling with God, alternates chapters between struggle and hope. This can be read as a devotional.
- Lament for a Son, Nicholas Walterstorff. A very moving reflection on the loss of his 25-year-old son in a climbing accident.
- Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, Timothy Keller. Deals very thoughtfully with the questions that are common to all who suffer. It includes good life-story illustrations.
- A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss, Gerald Sittser. The author lost his mother, wife, and daughter in a single car accident. A very thoughtful reflection on grief.
- www.grief.com, very helpful and comprehensive website, has great resources, including things to say and not say to a grieving person. (Not from a faith perspective.)
- GriefShare, a Christian support group we offer at PLCC.