We feel an intense need to be rescued these days. We look around for who might help us out of our predicament? The experts? The politicians? The church? What are the most appropriate resources that might give us guidance? We want to fly free from the oppressive clouds of uncertainty that have settled over the land, fly up out of this dingy air, up where we can get a wide view of the landscape: When will this thing be over, where are we headed, as individuals, as a nation? It seems we’re battling an enemy we can’t get our heads around, or get our hands on, a coalescence of baffling forces we don’t understand. Nothing is lining up according to our wishes.

I was reading Psalm 124 this morning. This rich poem talks, as the Psalms often do, about the “foes” we are battling. Our foes are are fierce, powerful, threatening. To be sure God’s people faced brutal forces that sought to crush them out of existence. The Psalms bear witness to a people who know extreme vulnerability. So often for them nothing is certain, including survival. The Psalms, then, are an indispensable resource for our own unsteady times.

Psalm 124 is a cry to remember: The Lord will snatch us out of the trap that is set for us, as he has done before. Eventually we will fly again, like a bird released from the grips of a captor. It is a cry of assurance. It is also a plea.

IF the LORD had not been on our side–
let Israel now say–
if the LORD had not been on our side
when our foes attacked,
then they would have swallowed us alive
in the heat of their anger against us.
Then the waters would have carried us away
and the torrent swept over us;
then over us would have swept
the raging waters.

Blessed be the LORD, who did not leave us
a prey for their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s trap;
the trap is broken, and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
maker of heaven and earth.

We see ourselves living in a furious world that just may swallow us alive, all of us, no matter our perspective on things. We are all vulnerable to the torrent about to sweep over us, the “raging waters,” a world gone crazy. But isn’t this the place of common vulnerability where we begin to sense, quite deeply, that “our help,” our only help, “is in the name of the Lord,” who is, we need to be reminded, the “maker of heaven and earth,” the maker of each one of us, the one who loves us, the one who loves the world he has created. This poem is about the source of our help.

What if begin to recognize our great failing in our time: Tragically we have airbrushed our maker out of existence? That creates the “raging waters” about to sweep us away. We come to see we have created a world utterly absent of the love of God at its center. This is the supreme foe we battle in our day, isn’t it? A world without God’s love.

I’ve grown rather apocalyptic these days. It’s easy to get that way as we look almost every moment at the raging waters swirling around, not just the violence in our streets, but as well the raging hatred spewing out from all quarters. As I sat in silence before God this morning, I came to feel, deeply, that the Lord has been with us before, with the people of God in dire circumstances, and he is with us in our troubled times, with each one of us, with all his children, whom he loves forever.

I heard this morning this Psalm calling me to remember, “like a bird” caught in the “fowler’s trap,” God will not leave me forever trapped. We have escaped before, we will escape now. We will fly again. In this silence we find vulnerability, and yet most of all, we find new trust, a new confidence. The Lord is on our side. The maker of heaven and earth wants us to fly free once again. The Lord will rescue us once again.

Photo: The kingfisher rises in flight.