Day 37/Wednesday of Holy Week: Rejoice and Be Glad

Rejoice and Be Glad © Jan L. Richardson (click image to enlarge)

Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. Let those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
—Psalm 70.4

From a lectionary reading for Wednesday of Holy Week: Psalm 70

Reflection for Wednesday, April 4 (Day 37 of Lent)

In her book Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott writes that the two best prayers she knows are “Help me, help me, help me” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I think of Lamott’s prayers as I linger with Psalm 70, a tiny jewel of a psalm whose five brief verses offer a spare bit of elaboration upon that basic cry for help and declaration of gratitude.

“Be pleased, O God, to deliver me,” the psalmist pleads as the psalm begins. “O Lord, make haste to help me!” These same words (in the Douay-Rheims version of this verse, which renders the first part as “O God, come to my assistance”) open every office of the Liturgy of the Hours, with the exception of Vigils; for nearly two millennia, this constant reminder of humanity’s need for help has been embedded in the prayers that carry monastic folk through the day and night. The psalmist continues in this vein, imploring God to bring “shame and confusion” to those who seek to harm him, and entreating God to hurry. “You are my help and my deliverer,” the psalmist cries out as the psalm closes; “O Lord, do not delay!”

Help me, help me, help me.

Tucked into this tiny psalm, amidst the psalmist’s pleas for aid, a single verse counsels joy in the presence of panic: “Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you,” the psalmist sings. “Let those who love your salvation say evermore, ‘God is great!'”

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

For some of us, asking for help—from God, from another person—can be tremendously difficult. It may rarely occur to us that God created other people so that we don’t have to do everything by ourselves. Yet as the psalmist reminds us, knowing what we need and asking for appropriate help is part of what it means to belong to God—and to one another. And as the psalmist also reminds us in verse 4, seeking the help of God (which so often comes through others) is a pathway to gladness; drawing near to the God who takes delight in delivering us is a road to rejoicing.

And so I am here to ask you: What help do you need this day? How would it be to ask for it? What gladness and gratitude might be waiting for you there?

Blessing that Waits
to Come to Your Aid

When I have become
so reliant on myself
that I cannot see
the need that gnaws
so deep
in my soul,

open my eyes,
open my heart,
open my mouth
to cry out
for the help
that you do not ration,
the deliverance
that you delight to offer
in glad and
generous measure.

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