I found myself wondering what the psalmist’s situation was as he wrote this piece and asking myself how long was it before he turned to God with these confident words. Was it immediate, had he been struggling for some time, or was it a last resort?
When we are ashamed or fearful, self doubt quickly creeps in and even the most seemingly confident experience these emotions at some time: the shame of getting it wrong, of hurting someone close to us, the unkind words said in haste. Fear, too, wraps itself round our hearts in ways that paralyse — the fear of not being good enough, of not being believed, the fear of others’ opinions, the fear of letting someone down.
Even on our Christian journey, we can feel ashamed. And we in the church have sometimes created a culture where people feel that they can’t give up a role for fear of letting others down, or where people sometimes feel ashamed to admit that they are struggling with God just now, feeling that they have lost touch. Brene Brown in her book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’, names this as a spiritual journey into “wholehearted living” and encourages us not to get stuck in our negativity. She talks about DIGging Deep.
“Deliberate in our thoughts and behaviours through prayer and meditation
Inspired to make new and different choices
Going- they take action.”
And most of us can’t do that without some help, both from our fellow pilgrims and from God.
“I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
Afar and near,
Alone or in a multitude.” (From St Patrick’s Breastplate)
1-3 I run for dear life to God,
I’ll never live to regret it.
Do what you do so well:
get me out of this mess and up on my feet.
Put your ear to the ground and listen,
give me space for salvation.
Be a guest room where I can retreat;
you said your door was always open!
You’re my salvation—my vast, granite fortress.
4-7 My God, free me from the grip of Wicked,
from the clutch of Bad and Bully.
You keep me going when times are tough—
my bedrock, God, since my childhood.
I’ve hung on you from the day of my birth,
the day you took me from the cradle;
I’ll never run out of praise.
Many gasp in alarm when they see me,
but you take me in stride.