Listening During Lent…A Lone Tree and “One Afflicted” …

     During the Lenten season, I’m reading and meditating on the Old Testament book of Isaiah and the New Testament book of John, with a random Psalm added each day—because I absolutely love Psalms.

     Today’s reading in Psalms reminded me of a picture Ron took one recent afternoon when we walked on one of my favorite routes along Lake Coeur d’Alene. The day was chilly and blustery. We encountered only a few bundled-up diehard walkers and dedicated runners.

     Even though I’m a rather “fair-weather” type of walker, there was something about this particular walk that seemed extra special. One of the distinctive aspects was seeing through different eyes this lone tree that stands along the lake.

C:\Users\Sue\Desktop\Ron Photos\Winter 2016-17\03012017_18723-1.jpg

     That’s the tree, and the psalm I’m referencing is Psalm 102. The writer of this psalm is described only as “one afflicted.” Verses 1 and 2 (ESV) read:

Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you!

Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress!

Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!”

     Many times in my life I’ve felt like the psalmist. In the past few weeks, I’ve had conversations with at least three different people who feel like the psalmist.
One woman dreads the upcoming anniversary of the death of a dearly loved brother;

     Another’s already wounded heart was broken—once again—by the callousness of someone to whom she’d entrusted that heart.

     Yet, another struggles with fear about the outcome of a medical condition he prayed he wouldn’t need to face.

     Yes, like this tree and like the psalmist described only as “one afflicted,” there are those times when

          we question whether we have the strength—the faith—to weather today’s storm.

               the very roots of our being feel exposed and vulnerable.

                    we find it almost impossible to stand tall, to hold our heads high.

                         we wonder whether our prayers will be answered, whether the sun will ever
                         come out again.

     The “one-afflicted” made some determinations related to his affliction in light of God. The psalmist concluded that the LORD:

  • is enthroned forever; remembered throughout generations (v.12)
    • In my words: God NEVER changes.
  • will arise and have pity (v.13)
    • In my words: God cares.
  • builds up (v. 16)
    • In my words: God’s not finished.
  • appears in glory. (v. 16)
    • In my words: God’s going to show up and show off!
  • regards the prayer of the destitute. (v. 17)
    • In my words: God hears our heartfelt, need-filled prayers.
  • does not despise their prayer. (v. 17)
    • In my words: God doesn’t get tired of listening to our prayers, so let’s keep on praying.

     I hope the photograph of this tree, the words of the “one afflicted,” as well as some of the ways both spoke to me during this season of Lent will encourage you as together we continue…

Listening on the Journey….

Sue Reeve



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