Psalm 102 and a Birthday Reflection

My Birthday Week has just ended. I know, some of you celebrate for a month, but this year, I am keeping the celebration a bit shorter. . .

This was a rough year, yes? Pandemic, isolation, masks, loss, conflict, tension, murder, mayhem, looting, utter insanity waved proudly as if it is freedom and joy. In a year that included the last half of 2020 and the first half of 2021, Psalm 102 was an appropriate place to stop on my birthday and consider life. Look with me as this passage groans and remembers and declares God’s purpose in all of life.

Psalm 102  A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord.
1  Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you!
2 Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!

3 For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace.
4 My heart is struck down like grass and has withered; I forget to eat my bread.
5 Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my flesh.
6 I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places;
7 I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
8 All the day my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse.
9 For I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink,
10 because of your indignation and anger; for you have taken me up and thrown me down.
11 My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.

12 But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
    you are remembered throughout all generations.
13 You will arise and have pity on Zion;
    it is the time to favor her;
    the appointed time has come.
14 For your servants hold her stones dear
    and have pity on her dust.
15 Nations will fear the name of the Lord,
    and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.
16 For the Lord builds up Zion;
    he appears in his glory;
17 he regards the prayer of the destitute
    and does not despise their prayer.

18 Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
    so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord:
19 that he looked down from his holy height;
    from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners,
    to set free those who were doomed to die,
21 that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord,
    and in Jerusalem his praise,
22 when peoples gather together,
    and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.

23 He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days.
24 “O my God,” I say, “take me not away in the midst of my days—
you whose years endure throughout all generations!”

25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 
27 but you are the same, and your years have no end.
28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure;
    their offspring shall be established before you.

Doesn’t that resonate? Have you been there with the Psalmist?

The days are short–like smoke, like desert grasses, like shadows in the evening. There are now more days behind me, most probably, than before me. And not just me. . . Even the earth is wearing out and will get changed like faded laundry.

Life is hard–distress and groaning fill our days. Solitude in the hot day and insomnia in the dry night chase us. Those who are wicked taunt and mock the righteous.

Yet.. . .

The Lord is still on His throne, and He is faithfully maintaining promises to His covenant to His people. He listens to the distress and groaning, and He answers. He has not–and will not turn away.

Life has purpose, even the hard parts. God frees the prisoners. Through our difficulties, he makes Himself known and draws nations to Himself through the praises of His people.

As I reflected on the past year, here are a few of the things that I have been so thankful to the Lord for:

Grace Baptist Church. I am grateful for opportunities to learn and grow and disciple in my community. From the preaching of David, Aaron, Jared, Rick, and Joe, Women’s Ministry, the small group of young women, and my fellowship group, I am blessed. Also, the church has encouraged and affirmed singles this year in a way I have never seen before!

Family. I am thankful for another year with my parents, celebrating my dad’s 80th birthday, and thinking about their next steps of faithfulness to the days the Lord has given them. It was a blast to surprise my nephew and niece for their school play, and even more fun to watch them preform as the Genie and Jasmine in Aladdin. “Princess posture, kid.” After years of praying, what a delight it was to celebrate my Alaska family’s adoptions. I am also thankful for all the evenings with friends who are like family. God is in the business of building His People!

Books. Sure, there were biographies and histories and ethnographies, but the biggest blessing of the year was reading Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund.

Christ was sent not to mend wounded people or wake sleepy people or advise confused people or inspire bored people or spur on lazy people or educate ignorant people, but to raise dead people. p.175.

Work at CHF, blueberry picking, baby birds, writing, cheesecloth face masks, Sculpty clay. So many blessings this year, and I am so thankful!

It was a good year. Hard, but good!

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