READ: Psalm 31
My times are in your hand. (v. 15)
Psalm 31 expresses the same tumble of emotions that I’ve often seen in prisoners: despair, outrage, fear, shame, wounded pride, desire for vindication. The psalmist was wasting away, ignored by friends, and beset by enemies. As is often true in the Psalms, the writer’s staccato declarations of faith sound like efforts at self-reassurance more than calm, settled affirmations. It’s easy to imagine these words being gasped out between cries of pain. Indeed, Jesus, the most wrongfully convicted person in history, does exactly that from the cross (Luke 23:46).
We started this series with the question, what does it mean for a free person to remember those in prison as though she or he were one of them? How do we enter into that experience with our hearts and imaginations? Well, we can realize their predicament when we remember the emotions expressed in Psalm 31—when we remember our own sleepless nights, our own creeping terror of mortality, our own fear of losing reputation or livelihood. But Psalm 31 also reminds everyone, imprisoned or not, that our times are never truly stolen. Enemies may come after us—false accusers, a blundering government, or, yes, criminals themselves—but our times, our lives, are in the Lord’s hands. They have never been anywhere else. And they are safe there.
Lord, remind all of us that the one who really is in control is the one who loved us enough to die on a cross.Psalm 31