Psalm 43 (NRSV)
Prayer to God in Time of Trouble
1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people;
from those who are deceitful and unjust
2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you cast me off?
Why must I walk about mournfully
because of the oppression of the enemy?
3 O send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling.
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy;
and I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.
Were you ever bullied as a child? Or even as an adult? Have you ever been put in a situation where someone’s words or behavior really got under your skin? Didn’t you just want to say some unholy things? I remember as a kid being bullied because I wasn’t “black enough” or I wasn’t “white enough”. I am biracial. My mother is Caucasian and my father is African-American. I remember being on a trip with my youth group one summer to Arkansas. It had become a tradition for us to visit Christ of the Ozarks, go to Silver Dollar City, and even take a tour of the small version of The Holy Land. I have such great memories of those trips!
Well, as we were traveling in our convoy of church vans, our youth leaders heard our bellowing cries for snacks, so we stopped at a small roadside convenience store. Little did I know what would happen. As my sister and I stood in line to pay for our tasty snacks, I noticed the woman behind the counter whispering to her co-worker and looking at us. When we got to the counter, we were refused service because of the color of our skin. Michael, one of my favorite youth leaders saw tears in my sister’s eyes, but also the rage on my face. You see, that was the straw that broke my huge camel’s back. But before I could say what I really wanted to say, he put his hands on our shoulders and said: “Remember whose children you are.” He not only meant my mom and dad, but he meant God. The entire youth group put all the snacks on the counter and we left in solidarity. When we got to the parking lot, Michael read Psalm 43 to us. We prayed. We continued on to see Christ of the Ozarks and sang our hearts out to 80’s music.
God always provides us an escape route when we are pushed to the snapping point when we’ve felt oppressed or ridiculed. Escape routes come in the form of scripture, prayers, deep breaths, and good humans.
God, my leader, and father: You have created every cell in my body, and it is amazing. You created all humans, and they are amazing. Sometimes people just really hurt me. Sometimes I hurt others. Lord, thank you for being my escape route of grace. My guide with your light and truth. Help me to sing Your praise instead of hurt with words. I know I can because your Spirit lives in me. I’ve got this.
We’ve got this. Amen.