During this pandemic it seems appropriate to stick with the Psalms again this week. The psalm appointed for Sunday is Psalm 130: “Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord …”
Out of the depths—isn’t that where we find ourselves right now, in the depths? Nothing like this pandemic has ever happened on this scale in human history— nothing so suddenly and drastically rearranging the daily lives of billions of people. Our health, yours and mine and of those dear to us, is in grave danger. Some of us may die; many of us will lose someone dear to us. We don’t know how long it will be before we can safely see one another in person. We don’t know if the sorts of jobs we have been counting on will even be there after this begins to subside, whenever that is. Experts continue to tell us that it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Nobody knows what the future will look like, or so it seems.
So we find ourselves in the depths, at a low point that threatens get devastatingly lower.
But this psalm reminds us that we are not the first people to find ourselves in the depths. Much is unique about the depths of our situation. What is not unique, however, is the experience of having every taken-for-granted certainty undermined. Others before us have been there. And we have learned that these are times when fresh insights can emerge—insights that can reveal deeper dimensions to ourselves and to the world we live in, dimensions that go unnoticed when we let life run in conventional, predictable patterns.
In this shared experience we are going to learn things about ourselves and about our whole situation that will reshape the rest of our lives. I can’t tell you in advance what those learnings will be. There will be continuities with some of our old “certainties.“ And there will be discontinuities.
So maybe we have to stand with this psalmist—“My soul waits for God,” in hope. The psalmist hopes that the God of love will somehow show up, without knowing exactly how that will happen. All the psalmist can do right now is wait.
The wisdom of centuries has taught us that when people do experience God showing up in times like these, it shakes up almost everything they thought they knew about God. That may be what’s in store for us.
But this is no time for predictions. While we are in the depths, we must wait. But we can wait hopefully.