Psalm 38

Lenten Offering

Welcome to Week 3 of WINE’s Lenten Offering—our offering to the Lord of time and listening hearts.

“God speaks to each of us through sacred Scripture and has a message for each of us. We shouldn’t read sacred Scripture as a word from the past, but rather as the word of God addressed even to us, and we must try to understand what the Lord is telling us.”

— Pope Benedict XVI, 11/7/2007 General Audience

Are you hearing from God as you read these Penitential Psalms?

Psalm 32 was easy for me. I love how upbeat it is. As I meditated on it, I really felt that God is a “hiding place” for me and I exulted in the promise of his faithful love. But the psalm we’re reading this week is quite different. Psalm 38 plunges us into the consequences of sin. I find it difficult to meditate on. I don’t want to read about festering wounds and groaning. But the thing about following a reading plan is I have no choice! And so I did read Psalm 38 over and over again, preparing to write to you.

I’m glad I did. Over time, the psalmist’s plea became my own:

“For you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. … Do not forsake me, O Lord!” (Psa 38:15, 21)

God spoke to me about listening and waiting for him, and he used some of the verses I was tempted to skip over, to whisper into my heart.

I’d like to share with you something Pope Francis wrote in The Joy of the Gospel:

When we make an effort to listen to the Lord, temptations usually arise. One of them is simply to feel troubled or burdened, and to turn away. Another common temptation is to think about what the text means for other people, and so avoid applying it to our own life. It can also happen that we look for excuses to water down the clear meaning of the text. Or we can wonder if God is demanding too much of us, asking for a decision which we are not yet prepared to make.

This leads many people to stop taking pleasure in the encounter with God’s word; but this would mean forgetting that no one is more patient than God our Father, that no one is more understanding and willing to wait. He always invites us to take a step forward, but does not demand a full response if we are not yet ready. He simply asks that we sincerely look at our life and present ourselves honestly before him, and that we be willing to continue to grow, asking from him what we ourselves cannot as yet achieve. (no. 153)

Seek to hear God speak to you as you read. Persevere even if you hear nothing. Ask for his help, and read intending to please God and spend time with him. Keep at it and trust in the Father to answer.  After all, you are his beloved daughter.

Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

—Sarah Christmyer

Questions to Ponder:

As a community of women, sharing a similar journey this Lent, we invite you to share your experiences and insights with each other on the blog (below) after you complete your prayer with Psalm 38. Here are some questions, based on the journaling questions in Create in Me a Clean Heart.

1. [READ] What struck you about Psalm 38? Did any words or phrases catch your eye? What did you notice about them?

2. [REFLECT] What did Psalm 38 say to you? Where did your heart draw you? After pondering that passage—what does it mean to you?

3. [RESPOND and REST] Were you able to move into a conversation with the Lord? The specific things that He says to our hearts, and our response, are often private. Would you like to share anything about the experience of hearing from Him, or entering into that conversation, or resting in his presence?