Reading the Psalms allow you to share in the experiences of people of faith meeting life head-on, finding God along the way.
As a new parent I’ve found new appreciation for the Psalms. What I love about them is that they are stories of real people living real lives.
Some psalms speak about lives filled with joy. Sadness and despair. Utter confusion.
This brings us to Psalm 70 (NRSV). It starts:
O God, deliver me; O Lord, make haste to help me. I’ve been a parent for a month, but I already find myself dwelling on psalms such as this.
I love my son Benjamin.
I love his infectious laugh. He is kind, helpful and a fairly quick learner. He loves people and will take your hand and pull you into this world. He’s the boy I’ve always wanted.
Of course I don’t expect parenthood to always be this easy. I’ve put him on more timeouts than I can count. And he’s sometimes getting cranky about nap time.
I’m fine with all the not-so-fun stuff. It comes with the package of being a parent. But all this mental and emotional preparation couldn’t prepare me for my biggest struggle: his rejection of me.
Two-and-a-Half Weeks of Living Hell
On October 13 Melody and I went to meet our son for the first time at a children’s home in China. We were nervous. But within 15 seconds of seeing him, our fears went away.
He ran into my wife’s arms, called her “mama” and gave her a warm hug and kiss. But when he turned towards me, he stopped. He ran and hid behind the director of the home.
Someone told me that my beard scared him. He’d never seen a man with facial hair before.
But his reaction stemmed from never experiencing a “daddy”. The men in his life were usually drivers, custodians or civil officials.
After my initial shock, I told myself that I needed to be the adult. I needed to be loving and patient.
But the reality was that the next two and half weeks in China became a living hell for me. I had to work 10 times harder than my wife to get even a taste of love and affection from him.
Don’t get me wrong. Benjamin enjoyed being around me. But it was usually when Melody was in the same room. Once we were alone, he would push me away, bawling, seeking the comfort of his mama’s arms.
What made it more difficult was seeing him prefer to hold the hand of our female interpreter rather than mine.
This went on every day. He gave me huge amounts of love and affection with equal amounts of fear and rejection. Melody tried to help, but you can’t make someone love you.
I started having second thoughts. Is this what my life will be like for the next 15 years? I wondered if Benjamin wanted me as his father.
O God, Deliver me!
I felt the words of Psalm 70:1 burst in my heart: O God, deliver me; O Lord, make haste to help me.
When you read the Psalms you can relate. Psalm 70, for example, takes the viewpoint of someone feeling attacked by his enemies, either real or imagined.
You’ve had people in your life keep you from finding happiness. You know of people who make your life miserable. You know of people that make you scared or angry.
When you keep such emotions bottled up inside, you can relate to verses 2-3:
Let those who seek my life be ashamed and altogether dismayed; let those who take pleasure in my misfortune draw back and be disgraced. Let those who call to say to me “Aha!” and gloat over me turn back, because they are ashamed.
Most people who go through such experiences often feel helpless. They are without hope. Most people don’t even turn to God.
But you do.
You are a person of faith! You have chosen Christ to be your savior.
Life can be miserable and difficult, but there is always hope. Yes, all this stuff is happening, but you can choose to not let it affect you, your emotions, your thoughts or your life.
Your circumstances don’t control you; God is and always will be in control. So let God always be your guide.
Despite my own rocky experiences with Benjamin, I know that God has stepped in and made things better for us. And I believe that God will do the same for you.
“Great is the Lord!” But as for me I am poor and needy; come to me speedily, O God. You are my helper and my deliverer; O Lord, do not tarry (Psalm 70:4-6).