Ascent Psalms: Psalm 120

Read Ascent Psalm 120 (preferably THE MESSAGE translation if possible).

“I’m in trouble. I cry to God, desperate for an answer…” (Ps 120:1)

No matter what our age, there are moments when we are anxious and so in need of God. Answers seem so illusive. We are not even sure how to phrase our questions. Maybe Jesus’ disciples felt that way also when they came to Jesus and pleaded, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Without hesitation Jesus gave them what we now call “The Lord’s Prayer.” It’s a good prayer!

At our lakeside fifth-wheel retreat one weekend, God’s Spirit led me to a series of devotions based on Psalms 120-134 (prayers of David, and others, who placed their needs before their God whom they trusted). These are called Psalms of Ascent because they were prayers used by the people of God, families, walking up to Jerusalem for their annual pilgrimage to the temple. In the Bible translation, THE MESSAGE, Eugene Peterson calls them “Pilgrim songs.” Pilgrims on the road often find themselves most uncomfortable in strange places. They need reassurances.

Psalm 120 is one person’s lament about being cornered and harassed by “liars.” Here’s someone who feels like “it sucks” to be in the wilderness with aliens. Well, one of those liars or aliens is death! Death dares to suggest God has forsaken me. Psalm 23 tells me the real truth, that God walks with me into this valley, this dark place, when I encounter death.

I write these words, just having been called by a young friend whom I baptized in Kootenay Lake about 12 years ago (yes, right under, and the water was cold for both of us!). She asked me if I would please come to her dying grandma’s bedside to be with her family. Her grandma was an RN. I once treasured her nursing skills on a Health Care committee we both served. Chelsey was not asking for miracles. She was asking for the presence of God in a painful place. She was caring deeply for her grandpa who was losing his life’s partner. This was a miracle of love! She remembered some youth group encounters with Jesus. Her friend Jesus was not about to leave her questions up in the air somewhere. In her time of crisis, God heard her cry for help.

Dear Jesus, you are more ready to answer than I am to ask. I love your answers that come in the form of pilgrim songs! How caring is that? Thank you for listening to our hurting hearts.