Lent Devotions: The bed of tears

Design by Doug Puller/Bread for the World.

Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).          

By Katie Buck

Psalm 6  

Psalm 6 is a special occasion psalm: for when you are full of dread and you are completely alone. At first, we want to distance ourselves, to skate past it to a pleasanter psalm of comfort or perhaps one that proclaims the glory of God. You know, something more applicable for worship. We try to deny that we feel the kind of deep loneliness that the author feels. This psalm invites us to express that kernel of ourself that we take great pains to hide. We try to quiet that desperate and lonely self.

Yet we inevitably end up back in the place of grief. It could be through failure or betrayal, where we feel as though our foes have besieged us and we are overcome. It could be through a heartbreak, when we come to the realization that the subject of our affections cannot or will not love our whole selves in the way that we desire. It could be the pain of not having a family that meets our emotional needs. Or it could be the loss of a loved one that sends us on a spiral of grief.

When we find ourselves making a river of tears out of our bed and clinging to our couch weeping (or attempting to numb our pain with Netflix), calling out to God desperately and imagining ourselves dead, we may not find hope right away. There is not much consolation on offer here. Sometimes all we can do is to beg God to turn Their face towards us and to witness us and save us from our loneliness. Deliver us — from our bed of tears. Save us — for the sake of Your steadfast love. Not because we deserve deliverance or salvation, healing or salve. It is God’s own turning that shows us that our tears and our cries are not in vain.

In our most desolate times, when we feel as though we have no friends to lift us up, it is God’s turning toward us that gives us a reason to continue. As God turns toward us for the sake of steadfast love (and not flighty, romantic, or even well-deserved love), we find that our grief is acceptable to God. It is God who anoints our grief and witnesses us at our lowest. It is God, whose steadfast love never fails, who will never leave us, who will not let our bed of tears become our grave.

Katie Buck graduated in 2012 with a Master of Divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary. 

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