Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. (Ps. 102:2)
“I’m lonely.” As a pastor in New York City, I heard these words frequently throughout 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic brought isolation, disorientation, fear, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and distress. Almost overnight, the hustle and bustle of city life ground to a halt. Broadway went dark. Jazz clubs closed. Restaurants were boarded up, many of which would never reopen. Livelihoods were upended. Like the rest of the world, life as we knew it was suddenly reduced to three-inch squares on Zoom calls. Loneliness seemed inescapable.
This psalmist experienced deep loneliness, declaring himself an “afflicted person,” crying out to God in lament. Lamentation is worshiping in and through brokenness. Two-thirds of the Psalms are laments. These passionate pleas not only teach us how to lament but also give us permission to lament. The psalmist didn’t try to hide anything from God. He brought every emotion before God, knowing that as hard as life gets, the Lord will always be on the throne.
We all desperately need this psalm. We need to be reminded that we cannot escape from life’s pain. At some point, we will all experience loneliness. So, too, we cannot avoid the pain of others. Like Jesus did for us, we can enter into their pain with compassion and empathy. And just as the psalmist reminded us, we can remind others, “You are not alone.”
Encourage someone with the reminder, “You are not alone.”
Jenn Petersen co-pastors Resurrection Life NYC, a Wesleyan congregation in Manhattan. Passionate about discipleship, worship, and justice, she also works for International Justice Mission.
© 2022 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.