Daily Lectionary Readings for Year A
Prayer for Deliverance from Persecutors
A Maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A Prayer.
On October 18, 2007, a tornado ripped through the small town of Williamston, Michigan. I grabbed Will out of his crib and we all huddled together in the bathroom. It sounded like a locomotive train was barreling through the house. The sound echoed and amplified in the small cave-like bathroom. It was dark and we had no idea what was happening. This terrifying rumble lasted less than a minute. When we stepped out of our shelter we found the destruction. Trees were twisted, branches were scattered, homes were damaged, a few cars were crushed. The tornado jumped over the parsonage. You could clearly see the line that it traveled from the trail of destruction.
Psalm 142 has an introductory title. It is a Maskil of David. Maskil might refer to a type of song or poem. The title continues. It was written by David when he was in a cave. It is a prayer. Before reading the Psalm I thought about David as a shepherd. I imagined that he would find shelter and rest in a cave as he watched over his sheep. I thought that maybe this was a simple note of where David spent some quiet time.
But the Psalm is not about David's peace-filled daydreams. Instead, he is sheltering in a storm. In the Psalm, David cries out to God, his words echoing in a cave. His thoughts raced as he imagined the traps his enemies set for him, in the darkness, beyond his sight. The fear is amplified by his sense that he is all alone. He does not feel that there are any who are there to help him, to pray for him, or to protect him. All he has is this dark, echoing cave, and God.
I must admit that huddling in the windowless bathroom while a tornado hit was an opportunity for pointed prayer. O God, keep us safe. Help us in our time of need. Watch over all who are afraid. Many can also relate to David's sense of isolation and abandonment, to that fear that grows exponentially when you feel all alone. We need to pay attention to that fear as this pandemic continues. If you are feeling afraid and alone, pick up the phone. Call somebody, anybody, and connect. I promise you that people from the church will receive you with compassion and understanding. Feeling alone and afraid is nothing to be ashamed of. We can relate. And, we can reflect how we have felt God's presence even in the midst of the storm. We can witness to the ways God has saved us, and give God praise.
Finding connection and community in a time of trial can help us step out of our cave and into the light. In Williamston, it was the incredible sight of neighbors pouring out into the street going door to door, checking to see if everyone was ok. It was the sound, within an hour, of 100 chainsaws getting to work to clear away the destruction and help make room for recovery.
Who are you going to call today? You can simply say, "I'm calling from my cave. How's it going out there?" And the person will understand. We need connection, and understanding, and someone to pray with. We need someone to help us know that the light is shining and the storm has passed and it will be ok.