When is the last time you were at the end of yourself? Do you remember that dreaded feeling of knowing you have nothing left to give, no more resources at your disposal to make your situation better? Have you felt total loss of control? If we live enough years, we all, at some point, land in a dire situation that we are powerless to change. A lot of times that breaking point shows up in a health crisis. Sometimes it’s a relationship ending, the loss of a job or a terrible accident…have I touched on your experience yet? I can think of two major ones in my own life. The first was cancer, the second was when our son rolled his jeep. Both sets of circumstances fast tracked me to the end of myself. In each case death was on the line…with cancer it was my own life, and the jeep accident our son’s. Devastating doesn’t adequately describe the moment you hear the diagnosis from the doctor or get the phone call from an ER nurse. I couldn’t function. I couldn’t even stand when I first saw our son. My knees literally went weak. There was nothing I could do to change either of these circumstances. I was desperate for help outside of myself. Psalm 17 speaks of David’s desperation and fear for his own life. David is honest in this text about his need for help outside of himself. This getting to the end of oneself, forces us to look at other options besides our normal resources. When we find ourselves lacking and powerless, our only hope is that there is someone who is more powerful than we are.
David’s words, “I am praying to you because I know you will answer” are my hope. I believe like David did that God is worth calling out to because he knows me, and my circumstances, and has the power to change them. “Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways” reminds me how personally and individually God responds to my cries for help. “By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge” tells me of God’s ability when I am at the end of my own. God’s willingness to rescue is the core of his being. He knows that on our own each of us ends in death and separation from him. His desire is that we not be separated from Him. God loves us and wants to spend his time with us here on earth as well as during eternity.
I think it is interesting that in the beginning of this text we get to see more of David’s relationship with God than just his cries for help that he writes at the end. He starts out reminding God that he has been honest and determined not to sin. David has asked God to test his thoughts and examine his heart for wrongdoing. David is not saying he is perfect and without sin, but he is professing his love for God and his desire and discipline to live according to God’s ways. There is evidence of real relationship, communication, understanding, and desire to love each other between David and God. I think this window into God and David’s relationship is beautiful and compelling.
I can’t find words that adequately express my gratefulness to God for his willingness and desire for relationship with me. I am overwhelmed that he chooses to spend his time with me. I am unworthy. I recognize that I am still living and that our son’s life was spared because of God’s power and his personal care in our lives. I am humbled by God’s gifts and attention.