Oh man, oh man, can I relate to this psalm right now! Let me take a moment to fill you in on what's been happening in my life over the past few weeks. I have been suffering from chronic dislocations of the shoulder, shoulder blade and collarbone--all on the left side. Basically, my bones and joints feel as if they're playing tug-of-war with one another, and it's excruciating. (Just to give you an idea, the picture above is kind of how I feel right about now.) The chiropractor has done his best to set each joint, but by the end of the day, one or more of them have moved out of place again. In a sense, I'm caught in a "catch 22." The joints are popping out because the muscles around them are so weak (presumably from years of babying my left side because of my severe bursitis). Obviously, though, I've not done myself any favors. Now, the muscles are too weak to hold the joints in place, but they can't be strengthened as long as the bones are out of whack. So, until the joints go in and stay in, I can't do what's necessary to strengthen the muscles, but it's unlikely that the joints will go in and stay in until I strengthen the muscles. See my conundrum?
I can honestly tell you that through the pain and frustration of the past few weeks, my prayers have sounded just like the first couple of verses of Psalm 22:
"God, why have you forsaken me?"
"God, why aren't you helping me to get better?"
"God, why aren't you answering my prayers?"
"God, I have begged and pleaded and begged some more, but it's like You don't even hear me. Either that or You just don't care that I'm suffering."
Yes, pain and misery can addle the brain. That's where verse 14 in the above passage comes in:
"I am poured out like water" - My mom often uses the phrase "weak as dishwater." I'm not exactly sure what that phrase means or from whence it originated, but I think of it when I read this verse. Weak as dishwater? Yep, that sounds about right. Pain and frustration are very tiring.
"All my bones are out of joint" - Oh, don't even get me started on that one. I had to play the piano for church on Sunday, and if you've never tried to play the piano when your entire upper body on one side is out of joint, well, you just don't know what you're missing!
"My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels" - My heart is so weary that it feels like nothing more than a puddle of wax. I feel no joy, no hope, no peace. Only pain and frustration.
As many of you know, I love the psalms and read it frequently. I guess that's why my mind has been dwelling on this particular passage for the past couple of weeks. But it wasn't until this morning that a new thought hit me. For just a moment, I was able to put aside my self-pity and take note of a sobering truth.
Psalm 22 is a Messianic psalm, meaning that it points to Christ. If you read through it, you'll see many similarities between the psalmist's account and the crucifixion of Christ. The cry of being forsaken. The agony of torment. The presence of the enemy. The pleas and prayers uttered. It's all there, and as I thought on that this morning, I realized that what I'm going through is nothing compared to the agony that Jesus suffered on the cross. But, get this--He did it willingly!
When Jesus went to the cross, He knew exactly what He was going to face. He knew the agony. He understood the loneliness. He was fully aware of what He was going to endure, yet He did it anyway because of His great love for us.
I don't know that I would ever choose to be in this much pain. I would like to think that I love my husband and my family enough that I would willingly take on such anguish out of love, but honestly, after a few weeks of dealing with it now, I have to say that I'm not sure I could do it. I would want to, but I don't know if I could make myself do it. But Jesus did, and He did it without hesitation.
My goal from now on is to view my own suffering as a reminder of what Jesus did for me and how much He loves me. I pray you can do the same.