Just imagine it.
Imagine every fragment of your life seeping into darkness. Imagine all the good and all the bad, fading. Imagine it dissipating like a whisper of smoke in the midnight sky.
Imagine feeling like your heart is suffocating, as if your very soul is withering away. Imagine sitting among ruin, dressed in naught but skin and bones. Imagine watching the world burn.
Imagine being torn apart from the inside out, by those who persecute and shame you. Imagine their taunts and sneers and mockery and hate filling you up with a dread you cannot get rid of. But now, imagine this:
Imagine that despite it all…
Psalm 102 is full of grief. The first eleven verses talk of much affliction and great pain, and a plea is what begins such an expression of sorrow:
“Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry for help come to you.” (Psalm 102:1 NIV)
I have lost track of how often I’ve said a similar prayer, and cannot possibly remember how many times I’ve cried out to my God…and begged for Him to answer me. And now I see this Psalm, and I see that I am not alone. None of us are alone.
We see, again and again, the author’s distress displayed in these verses – the words are soaked in it.
He tells of how his “days vanish like smoke”, and how his “bones burn like glowing embers” (vs. 3). We read of how his “heart is blighted and withered like grass” (vs. 4), and how he is “reduced to skin and bones” (vs. 5). “All day long my enemies taunt me…”, he says. (vs. 8)
I could go on, but here’s the point: He. Is. Suffering.
There is an overwhelming sense of desolation here; he writes as if he is emptying himself out, and filling up with utter despair. But he has more to say. He’s not done. There’s still verse twelve, the one that leaves me breathless.
“But you, O Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.”
But again, wait – there’s more.
“He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.” (vs. 17)
That cry for help? He will answer. That desperate plea? He will not despise. And that misery? What of it? I dare say it will turn to praise, because in the midst of it all, God remains.
“In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” (vs. 25-27)
This world is only temporary. We…are only temporary. The world will perish, and we will wither away. But in case you haven’t noticed yet, God will remain. The world is ever-changing, but we have a Redeemer that endures. Hebrews 13:8 tells us this:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Christ will never cease. His faithfulness will never falter. His love will never fail. His righteousness will be everlasting. His atonement will carry on. He will never be weak, never fail, and never change. He will always be wise, always be good, and always be patient. He will always be.
This means that when you are nothing but broken, you can still find healing; that when all you feel is shame, you can find courage; that when you are angry, you can find peace. It means that you can struggle and suffer and be in pain and never be okay, and yet it still is…it still is okay. Because you belong to someone whose goodness never ends. To someone whose forgiveness lasts forever. Who will always love. You belong to someone whose own Son was beaten and strung up on a cross, so that you…yes, you…could someday find yourself dwelling in that same everlasting, in that same Savior’s arms.
Some days I can’t help but want to remain in doubt. I can’t help but remain in bitterness, at times. I can’t help but remain in myself – a selfish, unfaithful, sinful being. But as I read through this Psalm, and as I identify so strongly with this grim state, this desolate being…this person who is so full of sorrow…I can’t escape verse twelve. I can’t escape the reminder. That in spite of my own wicked self, I still belong to someone who will remain. In spite of everything I have done…
As if you haven’t heard this enough, there’s more.
John 15:16 says, “You did not choose me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in my name He may give to you.” (NASB)
It would be enough – far more than enough – for God to just remain. Yet, He does more than that. He does something that we are nowhere near deserving. He chooses us.
When God sent His Son to earth, to physically and literally die for us, He gave us a way. A way to be forgiven and atoned; a way to dwell in His everlasting. He gave us a way to remain. Now we – the liars, thieves, murderers, addicts…we, the sinners – have the privilege to remain in God. And there is something indescribable about that; something so wonderful and inexpressible.
When we feel worn out with our weaknesses, feel vulnerable because of our brokenness, or feel nothing but alone…we must remain in God. When we feel the weight of our sin – our shame, anger, or lust – or when we try to remain in ourselves, and in our own selfishness…we must call on God. Because despite our hardships, He still remains. Despite our sin, He still grants us forgiveness when we ask. Despite our doubt, He still uses our suffering for His glory. He will always be absolutely enough, no matter what.
No matter what, God remains.