Reflections on Psalm 102

I’m going through another one of those ugly, dark periods of my struggle with mental illness. Periods that seem more and more common. It’s exhausting. I end so many days wondering why I keep trying.

But this morning the LORD refreshed my spirit while reading Psalm 102. You can read the whole thing here, but I thought I would pause a minute to share some of the portions that I found particularly uplifting.

I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places; I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop. All the day my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse.

Psalm 102:6-8

The imagery of a bird, isolated in the wastelands or resting defeated on a rooftop touched me deeply. The worse my symptoms are the more likely I am to retreat from company and stimulation. The exhaustion of simply existing chokes the energy from my body. I can’t leave my bed without becoming a shaking, stuttering, sobbing wreck and I hate to be like that in front of my children. While I find silence healing, it also riddles me with guilt. Laundry and dishes go undone. My girls wonder where I am. My husband adds all my regular duties to his already full regimen. It’s hard on everyone.

It makes me hate myself.

I battle the lies of worthlessness and abandonment until I’m too exhausted to stay up or to sleep. I lie awake at night thrashing myself for not trying harder, even though I know that one more step would make me scream my throat bloody.

But this opening lament, though poignant, gave more than the solace of shared suffering, it pointed to the God who sees and knows.

But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations. You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is the time to favor her; the appointed time has come. For your servants hold her stones dear and have pity on her dust.

Psalm 102:12-14

God sees my suffering. Chosen by Him, a member of His church, His beloved, His betrothed, He has shown His favor to me in the sacrifice of His Son. The giving of Himself for me.

The people of Judah wept over the rubble of fallen Jerusalem. They lamented the loss of their homeland and God’s favor. But God promised them renewal and redemption. The dust they pitied, the tears they shed, were nothing in comparison to the broken heart of God who could not leave them in their distress.

Even our dearest friends cannot treasure us or desire our comfort more than the God who gave life to the dust that is our flesh. To the dust that He stamped with His own image.

Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD: that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, that they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD, and in Jerusalem his praise

Psalm 102:18-21

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