Some time ago, we took our kids out of town one to visit family for the weekend. Trips like that aren’t always easy for our sons. Sometimes I don’t manage them well either. This was one of those. No breaks from having to quiet the boys down. Fighting all weekend to keep my patience and not embarrass my wife in front of her family with my own behavior. By Sunday morning, I was done. I didn’t want to be done. But there I was. Disheartened, overwhelmed, and frustrated. Again.
There was a church in the area I had been wanting to visit. We arranged our trip so we could make it. After everything, I was looking forward to church, a chance to refresh, or at least get a break. We even made it in on time more or less.
Our oldest son wanted to go in with us and our other son stayed back with his grandparents. We found seats away from the front just in case we needed to exit quickly. It wasn’t long before our son lost patience with being in church, and not much longer after that, I did too. And we left the sanctuary.
I was really frustrated. Like the rest of the trip, here I was again feeling overwhelmed by the situation. We found some seating outside the sanctuary so we wouldn’t need to be a distraction. After a few minutes, my wife decided to take our son back to the car. I sat alone in a row of red fabric cushioned chairs. I was off parent duty. But even then I wasn’t able to participate. My frustration had gotten the better of me.
During all our commotion the church was singing a song I had never heard before. It’s funny that I remembered it. I remembered it because it wasn’t upbeat. It was a sad song, lamenting and wordy. Somehow it caught my attention.
I stayed seated outside the sanctuary as the pastor preached his sermon. At the close of the service, I made my way to the front to ask for prayer. I tried explaining what they could pray for, but I couldn’t keep it together anymore. I was so tired. I just wept.
WAITING WITH PSALM 130
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!” the Psalmist sings (Psalm 130:1).
As if in anguish, the psalmist cries to the Lord for mercy. And then he waits. What is he waiting for? That the God of mercy, the Lord, would deliver him.
“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.” (Psalm 130:5-6)
Waiting is hard. How many times did I pray for help over the weekend that didn’t seem to come? When you call and there is no answer, it gets dark. It pushes you to the limit.
But the psalmist’s waiting is rooted in something: God’s covenant of love and promise of plentiful redemption.
“For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” (Psalm 130:7-8)
Where was this covenant sealed? Where were our iniquities redeemed? On a Roman cross. Deliverance came through an innocent, crucified between two thieves.
UNSEEN MERCIES: SAINTS, SONGS, AND SERMONS
We returned home following the service. Not much changed. But later that week I began to see God’s mercies from that weekend more clearly. In the sweet couple that prayed for me and promised to remember me in their prayers, even emailing me later that day. In a hymn written 500 years ago. In a sermon about a God always bending towards us, even as we bend away from him. And in a difficult weekend in which God’s unseen mercies were very much present.