Written by Rev. Rebecca D. Reeder, Associate Pastor, Sewickley Presbyterian Church Daily 414, Sept. 25, 2020
Psalm 88, excerpts
“O LORD, God of my salvation,
when, at night, I cry out in your presence, let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry.
For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. I am counted among those who go down to the Pit; I am like those who have no help…
I am shut in so that I cannot escape; my eye grows dim through sorrow. Every day I call on you, O LORD; I spread out my hands to you. Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the shades rise up to praise you?
Is your steadfast love declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in Abaddon? Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your saving help in the land of forgetfulness? But I, O LORD, cry out to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you…”
It feels God-ordained that this morning psalm in the Revised Common Lectionary is a psalm of lament. Some time ago, when I got in my car and the radio came on, this song by Marshmello & Demi Lovato – “OK Not To Be OK” – was playing, and I was immediately drawn in by the lyrics (not to mention the fun beat and emotive melody).
I love to listen for Gospel themes in today’s top hits. I do this because (1) I firmly believe that all things belong to God, and therefore there are glimmers of God’s creative Spirit in everything, and (2) because I think that these days pop music tends to do a better job than contemporary Christian music at communicating hard truths about life in a sinful world, and even sometimes they declare the goodness of God’s creation in new and creative ways that connect with our current experience. Listening for these glimpses still requires an exegetical ear – there’s still evidence of the effects of sin in pop music too!
But this song really resonated with me, and so I share it with you to encourage you that sometimes it’s okay not to be okay. The psalms of lament remind us of this, and give us freedom and permission to express our frustrations and hurts, our sadness and anxieties to the God of the universe who we worship and know is sovereign. Even when we’re too exhausted to pray, the Spirit hears the inner groanings of our hearts, and prays them for us when we can’t (Rom. 8:26).
So, whatever’s on your heart today – whether hopeful or hard – know that it’s okay not to always be okay, and it’s even more okay to express whatever you’re feeling before our God who loves us and hears us in all of our human experiences and emotions!