the well: part three
Read Psalm 77:1-3
“I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.”
Woah David. Just woah. Can you feel the anguish in his words? This verse is what I imagine our woman at the well feeling. Day after day in her dwelling, on her mat at night with tears streaming down her face, asking for the Lord. Her spirit growing faint within her…
How many times have I felt this in my own life? In my own pain where the nights that seemed endless, when the tears wouldn’t stop, when I felt broken, lost, abandoned and hopeless. And… and… and… Like that ache just wouldn’t go away. Growing up, I feel like I had so many of these nights. I struggled with friendships, relationships in general, feeling bullied and like an outcast. I had struggles with my relationships with feeling like I belonged. I had issues with my self esteem, feelings of hopelessness, feelings of being unloved. I had suicidal thoughts and dealt with an eating disorder. After switching schools my 7th grade year, I felt like an outcast because I didn’t wear the right shoes or clothes. I didn’t have friends for months and I could hear the girls snickering about me in the halls. This was at a Christian School no less. Now hear me when I say this is nothing like what our woman at the well might have dealt with, but for a 12 year old girl, this felt like the end of the world. I wanted to crawl into myself and disappear.
My heart cried out and I can remember feeling like I wouldn’t ever feel happy again. God couldn’t hear my cries, and if he did, my problems weren’t big enough for him to hear. They were small, just like I was. Insignificant.
Middle school melted into high school and that pain seemed to follow and intensify. Friendships feel a part and the misery I felt with myself morphed into an eating disorder that left me feeling even more empty, alone, and unloveable. I would categorize most of my pre-teen to teenage years as a time of utter sadness. I was a girl who was tired of staying inside my dwelling; I was tired of “the village women” shaming me, making me feel less than, and letting my sin define who I was. I felt these nights and nights of pain. I remember, like David here in the above verse, “stretching” out my arms at night crying out to God.
Pain. No one person can define what your pain is to you. Whether it’s after the loss of a loved one, a cancer diagnosis, being new to a city and feeling alone, a friendship that has had the sharp knife of betrayal cut it a part, abandonment from a parent or loved one.… I could go on. Whatever you are going through friend, whatever you wrote down on day one, I’m sure you have uttered these same words that David cried out to God. If not audibly, our heart has. I know mine had screamed these words.
“I cried out”
“I sought you”
“At night, I stretched out my hands….”
In fact, the word night in the verse above translates from the Greek word layil (lah’-yil) while meaning night, the portion of the day between sunset and sunrise, it also is used figuratively to signify absolute despair or gloom. My Hebrew to Greek Key Word Study Bible actually states, “the despair that sometimes engulfs the human heart”. Wow.
Oh sweet friend, I have been here, and you know what? So has David, and Job, and Paul, and possibly our woman at the well. Where we feel that pain that it engulfs our hearts and it seem impossible to see the light of the Holy One. Maybe you are in the midst of your night right now, or maybe you are just coming out of it or about to go into it. But please be comforted by this. You are not alone. You have never been alone, and even in the night, there is light. Because, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness had not overcome it” -John 1:5
Please re-write Psalm 77:1-3 below, but this time, in your own words. Feel free to add anything that makes it more personal.
Read it again sweet friend, take a deep breath, and write how it makes you feel. Where are you in your “Night”?
Know that no matter what you are going through, you are not alone. Even if it feels like you are on an island of pain that no one can touch, know that even the most “seasoned” of believers experienced this type of despair. David, Job, Paul, Esther, etc…. the Bible is filled of these very humans who felt so overwhelmed by their pain that often they felt as if their night would never end. Does this fact make you feel better or not? Explain why or why not?
Oh Father, my heart has been broken and engulfed in utter despair more times than I would care to count. I have felt lost, abandoned, alone, and blinded by the darkness, but…. I knew some where deep down inside there was hope. Even as the tears fell, I knew I could hope. You were never far from me, even when I couldn’t see you, you never left my side. Thank you Lord. Amen.
Extra Credit: Sit down with the Psalms and re-write a couple in your own words, Listen to O Come to the Alter by Elevation Worship, watch a sappy Rom/Com (my favorites are Pride and Prejudice & You’ve Got Mail).
love you sweet friend, emilie