“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
(English Standard Version)
This Psalm was written when David, needing a way to escape, feigned insanity before Abimelech- a very interesting story in its own right. However, this Psalm reflects the emotional and spiritual side of this encounter. In general, the Psalms tend to evoke strong feelings on the part of the reader, for they speak to the all too familiar highs and lows of life on this earth. Particularly in times of suffering and trial, the Psalms grant the reader permission to feel and express their pain without guilt. We are not called to stoically deny either emotion or pain. The Psalms make that clear.
In the above section, we see two realities. The pain of trials on this earth and the faithfulness of God in the midst of that suffering. The tension between comfort and pain hold fast in this Psalm- brokenness means nearness. The tension between the real pain of life on this earth and the real comfort of our Lord in heaven comes to the fore the above portion. For, God does not remain aloof in heaven watching while we suffer. Instead, He comes down to intervene. He not only hears the cry of the righteous, but he saves and delivers.
Yet, the righteous are still afflicted. More than that they are brokenhearted and crushed. These are strong words in the English language. Can a broken heart or a crushed spirit be made whole again? It turns out that brokenhearted is actually a very accurate translation of the Hebrew concept in view here. It refers to one whose inner well or heart is broken or crushed. Likewise the word translated as “crushed” refers to one actually crushed or despondent. Two very similar concepts. This use of parallelism in the Hebrew poetry, helps to emphasize the Psalmist’s point. The Lord is present with and rescuing his beloved ones in the midst of intense and overwhelming suffering. Though the afflictions may continue, He remains attentive, present, and active.
So, to know that the trials and suffering mean the nearness of our God might help us to see the pain in a better light. The tension between the pain of the trial and presence of our Comforter and Deliverer is real. We live in it for a time on this earth. One day, the deliverance will be a final reality. For the righteous, our hope is secure even if the pain must continue for a time. Maybe one day we can grow into an understanding that suffering and nearness can go hand in hand. We don’t need to deny the reality of the pain and its attendant emotions, but we can express that pain with hope.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.