My favorite book of the Bible is the Psalms for good reason. This ancient poetry expresses every human emotion and is especially good for the times when all you want to do is cry. The pictures coming out of Ukraine are unthinkable. A woman’s hospital bombed. Pregnant women about to give birth injured. How can we do this to each other?
There are more laments in the Psalms than any other kind of Psalm (Psalms of praise and Psalms of thanksgiving). They usually start with a petition to God, then a description of why the writer/community is suffering, followed by a request for God’s help, and finally an expression of trust in God.
Psalm 12 is an excellent choice to pray as we watch and weep with those being persecuted.
Plea for Help in Evil Times
To the leader: according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David.
Help, O Lord, for there is no longer anyone who is godly;
the faithful have disappeared from humankind.
They utter lies to each other;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, ‘With our tongues we will prevail;
our lips are our own—who is our master?’
‘Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan,
I will now rise up,’ says the Lord;
‘I will place them in the safety for which they long.’
The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure,
silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
You, O Lord, will protect us;
you will guard us from this generation for ever.
On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among humankind.
These words carry the intense emotions of those who have suffered before us but yet had faith in a God that works through us to make things different.
There are stories every day of individuals making a difference with the refugees. In times of acute crisis, we need to reach out with all the help we can muster but we can’t lose sight of the oppressed and persecuted right outside our doors either.
We are God’s hands in the world. Those of us with privilege can decide how we want to respond. First, we lament, then we reaffirm our trust and faith, and then we decide what we will do to help bring about the kind of world where pregnant women don’t need to fear for their lives no matter where they live, what color their skin is and how much money they have.