When I look back at my life, I am amazed to still be alive and hopeful that life can be beautiful, no matter the craziness of this life. I think of the reality, for me any way, that from the time before I was even born until the gray that permeates my hair today, God has been with me, helping me to survive all the events that have made up a lifetime. The psalm for this week is one of praise for God’s constant help across years and decades, including the assurance that He will not leave us in our old age.
Psalm 71 does not have an author listed, but the writer appears to be an old man who is praising God for all His goodness and assistance across the span of his lifetime. It is 24 verses of beautiful faith and confidence, and it leaves no doubt whom the writer credits for his triumphs and moments of joy: God Almighty, El Shaddai! I loved reading it, especially with my grey-infused Afro! I know what the writer is feeling and the gratitude he so wondrously demonstrates with his words of praise.
Psalm 71:1-6 O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me, and set me free. Be my rock of safety where I can always hide. Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked, from the clutches of cruel oppressors. O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood. Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother’s womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you!
It is obvious that the author not only has experienced grief and strife, but in these later years of life, he is once again in need of rescue from somebody or something that is too large for him to handle alone. From the past, he has learned whom to turn to in times of trouble, acknowledging that God has been the Source of triumphing over adversity, and that his hope is in God alone. From childhood, God has been a constant help, so, naturally, he continues to call on the One he knows will hear and respond appropriately to his cries.
I am the same way. Yes, I tend to panic at first when trials hit, but then, I give it all to Jesus, remembering that He has always helped me to get through the difficult moments, somehow touching my life in just the right way with just the right answer. I have been awe-struck at His goodness and responses.
When I was a child, around age 10 or 11, I had really bad headaches that made me have to lie in bed all day. My great-aunt looked at Oral Roberts on television. One day, as I cried out in pain, she told me to reach out and place my hand on the television where Rev. Roberts’ hand was, when he started praying. Afterwards, my headache was gone. I did not feel any heat or nothing like that, the headache just went away.
I did not have it again until I was the victim of domestic violence in my teens. I was so thankful to God for healing me, a small child who did not really understand who God was, but I learned that somehow He had the power to overcome the natural world and heal me. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I just placed myself in His hands, hoping for another miraculous healing. That healing came through chemotherapy and surgery, but it was no less appreciated and admired. So, my first instinct as an older woman when sickness hit is, like the psalmist of today’s offering, to go to God in prayer.
Psalm 71: 7-16 My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection. That is why I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long. And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside. Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing. For my enemies are whispering against me. They are plotting together to kill me. They say, “God has abandoned him. Let’s go and get him, for no one will help him now.” O God, don’t stay away. My God, please hurry to help me. Bring disgrace and destruction on my accusers. Humiliate and shame those who want to harm me. But I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more. I will tell everyone about your righteousness. All day long I will proclaim your saving power, though I am not skilled with words. I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord. I will tell everyone that you alone are just.
I created this blog to write about the great deeds of God in my life, to encourage, inspire, and exhort others to trust in God for their help, and not to depend on human beings. I wanted people to know that help from heaven comes, because it did for me. So, like the author, people can use the miracles of my life as examples of God’s strength and protection, and, for those who have followed us for a while, you can attest to the fact that I never cease to praise Him and give Him credit for my salvation and help. I have had enemies, and I don’t think I have but one today, and that is Satan, who doesn’t want me to write of God’s helpfulness and faithfulness. But, somehow I know that God will not abandon me now, for I am the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8), albeit an old one.
And yes, there have been times when I, too, have asked God to revenge the violence in my life, to cause harm to the violent men. But I have outgrown that now, asking instead that He might heal them of their anger and need for power and control, so that no other women are harmed by them.
It is interesting that my students have over the years asked me to write a book of my stories, but I don’t feel that I even know where to start. When I think of authors, I think of Jane Austen, Dickens, Hemingway, Ludlum, and Cussler, not Regina. These are true wordsmiths. The blog is an easier way to tell of His great deeds, for it allows me to touch the hearts of people around the world, telling them of God’s justice and unfailing love. Blogging is about community, people joining together to present each other with stories of survival of the most horrific events in their lives. I am so proud to be a part of that, and maybe one day, I will gather my posts into a book, giving God all of His glory and praise. But, for now, my prayer is that God will take care of my enemy, and I will keep writing my stories.
Psalm 71:17-24 O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me. Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare with you, O God? You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again. Then I will praise you with music on the harp, because you are faithful to your promises, O my God. I will sing praises to you with a lyre, O Holy One of Israel. I will shout for joy and sing your praises, for you have ransomed me. I will tell about your righteous deeds all day long, for everyone who tried to hurt me has been shamed and humiliated.
One aspect of life that I hope people comprehend in my stories is that just because we love God doesn’t mean that troubles never arise. Instead, they are testimonies that God’s people suffer hurt, harm, and danger. If someone wants to be a Christian as a safeguard against the evil and hurts of this life, they will be dearly disappointed. I can remember moments when I asked, “Why?” and explained my goodness to God, but goodness does not prevent bad things from happening.
There were other times when I simply chose not to listen to God’s warnings, thinking that I knew better and, even if I was wrong, God would save me. But, when I found myself in really serious trouble, God allowed me to suffer for a season, and I learned from my mistakes to listen and discern His voice and pay attention, not making a move until I feel His direction and guidance. He does not try to hurt us, and no, sickness does not come because He is mad at you or your faith is too small. Let’s stop saying that in the Body of Christ. Instead, let us tell of his wondrous rescues and His mighty presence in times of trouble.
The author reminds us, “You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me from the depths of the earth.” Indeed, I, like the writer of Psalm 119:71 have said,”My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees. Your instructions are more valuable to me than millions in gold and silver.” I give God praise, dominion, majesty, glory, and honor, for His plan of Salvation, especially for that little baby boy who grew into a wise young man who spoke with such authority on the Kingdom of God and who was not above cooking fish and serving it to His friends. As a Southerner who will not move anywhere that does not have a place to buy fried fish and pork and beans with slaw on weekends, I love the Fisherman.
You have to love a Savior who can turn an unsuccessful all-night fishing trip into a miraculous fish fry the next morning, turn water into wine to save a young couple humiliation, and who talked to the outcasts and touched the unclean, loving them all in His own way according to their needs. I am forever thankful for His courage and willingness to pay my ransom price, His broken body and shed blood, for me and you to have eternal life.
Like the unknown psalmist, I will continue as long as I have breath to love God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and to proclaim His great works to the children of men. Even if I am rebuffed and rejected by people, I will do what He calls me to do and let Him take care of the ones who do not believe my testimonies are sure. I will never outgrow the need for His goodness, mercy, and grace. Instead, the older I get the closer I move toward His bosom, for Him to carry me when I can no longer carry myself.
This is a beautiful psalm, one that testifies to the life-long help of God, and that reminds us that God’s love never changes. From everlasting to everlasting, He is God. You can trust and believe in Him to be there, no matter what. It may feel sometimes that He is distant, but He is always as near as your heart. I know, because I have tried Him, and He had never failed me. I have not always understood the outcome, but later, I have came to comprehend that He knows the future, both tomorrow and 20 years down the line, and, subsequently, He does what’s best for us.
Dear Heavenly Father, Abba, Rabbi,
Thank you for looking out for me over the span of my lifetime. As Douglas and I plan a three-month trip to live in Europe, it is my prayer that You will lead us to know where to stay, send people into our orbit to teach of Your goodness and love, and help us to make friends who will be a help in times of trouble and who we can help as well. We are excited to cross the water and visit the places we both have hungered and thirst to experience. Because You have been with us through so much, even gifting us with each other when we both thought we were too old for new and fresh love (Viva la Internet!), we will continue to trust that You will be with us every step of the way now that we are old and grey-headed. To You we offer honor, majesty, glory, and dominion over our lives. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.