The beginning of this Psalm touches a familiar experience for us all. Of course it’s natural and right to turn to the Lord in times of deep distress. We’ve all done that at one time or another. He always draws close to listen and answer. During times of crushing brokenness he is always present to help, comfort and lift us up.
But is that really the point of brokenness? Does God only allow us to be bruised, crushed and broken in order that he may heal us and restore us? Is his primary commitment to provide what’s missing from our lives or give back the things we’ve lost?
The writer of this Psalm can help us find some answers to these questions. He was in the midst of some overwhelming circumstances. Apparently he was submerged under a tidal wave of disastrous events and painful experiences. What does he ask God for? Read the rest of the Psalm and it may surprise you.
He asks for forgiveness. Imagine that! We might have expected him to cry out to God for deliverance, for reversed circumstances, for blessings, for relief from pain. But no. He is looking for forgiveness. We may be tempted to think that this was only a ploy on the part of the Psalmist. He figured that his discomfort was due to his personal sin or the corporate sin of Israel. If he prayed down forgiveness from heaven for himself and the nation, God was duty-bound to bless by reversing whatever situation he was in.
But I don’t think so. God is never obligated to bless because we can never deserve it. It is always by grace. Repentance opens the door for God to bless us but no true repentance is ever about seeking blessings. It is always about seeking God for himself.
When we are going through severe trials, our attitude should never be that of a suffering person demanding relief. Rather we should be courageous enough to look into the depths of our soul for a deeper brokenness. The brokenness of knowing that of ourselves we are utterly hopeless and helpless. From this place we will find a deeper repentance leading to a deeper joy – the joy of pure communion with the living God. That’s the grace of God.