In 2007 I was despondent and depressed. My dream of living in my beloved Rockies was on life support. Again I would have to uproot my family and close the curtains on a dream. I had no idea where to go or what to do. Self-doubt and shame surged.
Then a pastor friend read me a 3,000 year old prayer. The words burrowed into my heart, gave me hope and a way to understand what I felt in that desperate time. “For my enemies speak against me.”
I found desperate hope in a 3000 year old prayer!
King David wrote that prayer when he too was filled with doubt and dread. Death stood near his bed. He was too weak to raise his famous sword, too old to even rise. In desperation he asks God “not to cast him away in his old age.”
David had faced many years of betrayal, including his own, revolt, political intrigue, and simple everyday hardship. Yet he prays, “I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.”
For many this last year has seemed a lifetime of suffering jammed into one! This last week, as I visited a hospitalized friend sick from COVID, Psalm 71 rose from my heart to my mind. I grasped his hand and prayed it with him, knowing God’s words would penetrate his sedated sleep and burrow into his heart as well.
David wrote and prayed Psalm 71 for his own encouragement, as an expression of his own human faith, maybe never guessing that it would be passed from hand to hand and heart to heart for 3,000 years!
And so here is Psalm 71 revisited. I have paraphrased some parts to bring it from 970 BCE to 2021. The sections in Italic are my additions.
Please pray it with me and receive ancient but present hope. Love, Eugene
In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
turn your ear to me and save me.
Be my rock of refuge,
to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
Deliver me, my God, from the fear
Flooding our lives.
From the grasp of affliction
As we venture back to
Work, friendships, family,
Worship, stores, parks, and vacations,
As the world opens up
Like a battered spring flower
You are our hope, Sovereign Lord,
Since the beginning.
Our confidence rests not in
Masks and mandates*.
But we rely on you.
Because you brought us forth
From our mother’s womb.
You sustain us even now.
And we will ever praise you.
You are our strong refuge.
Our lungs are filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long.
Do not cast us away when we are old;
do not forsake us when our strength is gone.
In these days we are shattered as
Glass in a fierce storm
Bent as trees by hurricane force.
My enemies speak against me;
Mock no matter the side.
They say, “Our side is God’s.“
Or “There is no God!”
Or “God cares not
Do not be far from me, my God;
come quickly, God, to help me.
As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
of your saving acts all day long—
though I know not how to relate them all.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
Though you have made us see troubles,
Loved ones sick or lost.
Life a heavy weight we cannot lift,
you will restore our lives again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring us up.
Our families and friends
And churches will
We will praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, our God;
We will sing praise to you with the lyre,
O Holy One.
Our lips will shout for joy
when we sing praise to you—
whom you have delivered.
Now seated at the table
Of the feast of friends
Will join us
Their lives renewed
In your eternal presence
Our sovereign God.
Please pass this prayer along to others who need desperate hope!
*I have worn a mask and observed mandates during this crisis but my confidence has been in God not them.