A Street Youth Psalm of Lament


We finished the book of Luke in October in our weekly Bible study attended by street youth on Tuesdays. We decided to do some Old Testament work until we are ready to read the Christmas story later in December. We'll start a new Gospel book (probably John) in January.

Today we covered Psalm 88 and Psalm 107. We discussed the various types of Psalms and how these two represent the  biggest types: lament and thanksgiving. 

We read Psalm 88. Did you know there apparently were street youth 3000 years ago? Read this from Psalm 88:15 and tell me there weren't:

From my youth I have suffered and been close to death; 
   I have borne your terrors and am in despair. 

We then studied the four parts to a lament: a call for God to listen, presentation of the situation ("the complaint"), asking God to fix it ("the plea"), and then anticipating that God is already at work and thanking Him for it. We then wrote our own. Here is the combined lament from today's group:

God! GOD! I want you to listen!

 

Why are you so far away?
Why don't you hear my prayers?
Why are so many bad things happening?
Why do I want things I can't have?

 

God, show me that you are near… that you hear.
Help me today… even if I need it again tomorrow.

 

I will wait…

We finished by reading Psalm 107. It gives "thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever" (Ps 107:1). It continues with several stories of restoration. Two jumped out at the group today as applying to street youth today:

Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, 
   prisoners suffering in iron chains, 
because they rebelled against God’s commands 
   and despised the plans of the Most High. 
So he subjected them to bitter labor; 
   they stumbled, and there was no one to help. 
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, 
   and he saved them from their distress. 
He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, 
   and broke away their chains.  (Ps 107:10-14)

 Some became fools through their rebellious ways 
   and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. 
They loathed all food 
   and drew near the gates of death. 
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, 
   and he saved them from their distress. 
He sent out his word and healed them; 
   he rescued them from the grave.  (Ps 107:17-20)

Throughout this lament study, we noticed that the Psalmists spend a lot of time and words describing their circumstances. At first this seemed puzzling and self-centered. But we discovered as we talked about it, that by sharing it all with God and giving words to all our problems, we are better able to let go of our fears and anxieties and issues. We are made more ready for whatever solutions are coming our way.

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