Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.
Scripture: Psalm 88.1
O Lord, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you.
Reflection: The Shifting Sands of Crisis
The Park Forum
Halfway through the winter of 2009 construction crews were working to dig a parking garage under a 13 story apartment building in Shanghai. The workers, mostly untrained migrants, had dumped tons of excavated dirt on the bank of a nearby creek. What happened next was was likely a result of unfavorable winds, soft soil from unseasonably high amounts of rain, and the creek bank collapsing under the weight of the dirt.
Photos from the site are arresting. A nearly-intact 13 story building lays on its side—as if a toddler had knocked over her dollhouse. Fortunately, because construction was incomplete, there were no tenants in the building and only one person lost their life in the tragedy—a remarkably low number based off the size of the building.
Weak foundations lead to catastrophic events.
Psalm 88 is a desperate cry to God in the midst of catastrophic events. Charles Spurgeon called it “the darkest of psalms.” The psalmist pleads with God, “Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!”
Spurgeon continues, “It is a sorrowful wail, and it comes to a close when you do not expect it to finish. It really has no finish to it, as when men wind up their songs with proper finales; but it is broken off, like a lily snapped at the stalk.”
The psalmist pours his pain and frustration before God in prayer. “Prayer is always best when it rises to pleading,” Spurgeon concludes. “The man who understands the sacred art of prayer becomes a special pleader with God.”
Even in the seconds before the building in Shanghai fell over it would have looked no different from the other two buildings on site. The outside architecture was nearly complete. The paint color naturally complemented existing structures. And the view of the city from the top floors would have been wonderful.
The foundation was built on shifting sands.
We can attempt to solve life’s disappointments and crises with emotional strength or shear will. But it’s in our relationship with God through Christ’s sacrifice, our prayer and worship, the community of believers, and the scriptures that we find the foundation which can sufficiently support a thriving life.
Prayer: The Cry of the Church
In the evening, in the morning, and at noonday, I will complain and lament, and he will hear my voice.
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.