For Peace While Suffering (A Few Words for Wednesday)

From this mornings Office of Readings in the LOTH, there is the following Psalm of David. I have several family members who are elderly and ill, as you probably do too. Webster wrote recently of a friend who is suffering from an illness that is likely the door to her immortality.

But whether we depart suddenly or slowly, we will depart. Ponder then, these few words of David, where with hope and faith, the door leads us home, refreshed, and unto God.

Psalm 39
Dixi custodiam. A just man’s peace and patience in his sufferings; considering the vanity of the world, and the providence of God.

Unto the end, for Idithun himself, a canticle of David.

I said: I will take heed to my ways:
that I sin not with my tongue.
I have set a guard to my mouth,
when the sinner stood against me.

I was dumb, and was humbled,
and kept silence from good things:
and my sorrow was renewed.
My heart grew hot within me:
and in my meditation a fire shall flame out.
I spoke with my tongue:
O Lord, make me know my end.
And what is the number of my days:
that I may know what is wanting to me.

Behold you have made my days measurable
and my substance is as nothing before you.
And indeed all things are vanity: every man living.
Surely man passes as an image:
yea, and he is disquieted in vain.
He stores up: and he knows not for whom
he shall gather these things.

And now what is my hope?
Is it not the Lord?
And my substance is with you.
Deliver me from all my iniquities:
you have made me a reproach to the fool.
I was dumb, and I opened not my mouth,
because you have done it.

Remove your scourges from me.
The strength of your hand has made me faint in rebukes:
You have corrected man for iniquity.
And you have made his soul to waste away like a spider:
surely in vain is any man disquieted.

Hear my prayer, O Lord, and my supplication:
give ear to my tears.
Be not silent: for I am a stranger with you,
and a sojourner as all my fathers were.
O forgive me, that I may be refreshed,
before I go hence, and be no more.

  • Stefanie

    I, too, found this psalm from today's Divine Office to be of comfort yet hard to translate it for our friends and family members who 'aren't quite there' in their faith in God. A friend of mine whose 23-year old son died three weeks ago after a 2-year liver illness, wrote to me yesterday, "I understand the concept of God and heaven but I'm so, so, so angry right now that my son is gone. I can't wrap my mind around it. It'll be doing something mundane and suddenly, it will hit me and I have to stop what I'm doing just so I can breathe. It almost drops me to my knees when it hits. The thought of living like this for the rest of my life is agonizing."Hard to know what to say to that, but I have to remind myself that my friend is a Catholic- frozen-in-time because she hasn't been actively Catholic since our Confirmation at age 13. I was once there, too, and came back. She is still the 13-year old grappling fiercely with God and mostly being angry at Him.I often quote the Divine Office or Morning prayer to her when I write because I often just come to the end of my own 'wisdom.' May God's Word be fruitful and not return void.Frank, thank you for pointing us again to the richness of God's Word.

  • Frank

    Stefanie: It is difficult for us to walk in another's shoes, especially one who has lost a child to an accident, war, or an illness.I'm currently reading John Wu's Beyond East and West and I'll paraphrase something he said he told his children during Rosary prayers with his family:Though we are your mommie and daddy for a little while, your true Father is God, and your true Mother is Our Lady. Put your trust in them, call on them when you are in need. Because your earthly mommie and daddy will not be here long.Our children are not our own.

  • Terry Fenwick

    This is lovely, Frank. What a beautiful thing to tell your children – their true Mother is Our Lady and then their Father in Heaven will always be there for them, too. The Heavenly Family.

  • Stefanie

    Thanks, Frank — I believe that quite firmly– that is why "Father" and "Mother" to my children and myself always always means Our Father in Heaven and Our Mother Mary. Wasn't it our friend Blaise who wrote his sister in that glorious letter about their recently-deceased father, that their father had actually died at baptism? That at baptism, a Christian dies to belonging to anyone but God. That we come out of the baptismal waters, truly to a new life. (I see this change quite profoundly when I watch the RCIA newly-baptized rise up. They are utterly changed from deep within and without.)I have read that letter often these past weeks.

  • Anonymous

    Stefanie, if you think she would be open to it, you might want to suggest to your friend that she look for a bereavement support group in her parish, or a nearby parish. A church-based group would (hopefully!) help her come to grips with the God issue, as well as the other aspects of grieving.

  • Frank

    @Terry: Pretty bright idea John Wu had there, huh?