Deliverance

I recently discovered the poetry of Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), and thought I would share one of her poems that reminded me of a lament and psalm of David. From her Wikipedia page, Anne was a Puritan from Massachusetts and one of the most prominent early English poets of North America. She was also the first female writer in the British North American colonies to be published.

I like how she poignantly captures the struggle with her health and resolve to praise God in the midst of difficulty. Everyone will face sorrow, sickness, fits, and distress in this life. All of creation is groaning, but there is hope and deliverance in Christ, and the life to come. This reminds me of a Charles H. Spurgeon quote:

“Is there nothing to sing about today? Then borrow a song from tomorrow; sing of what is yet to be. Is this world dreary? Then think of the next.”

May you be comforted and encouraged to pour out your own lament before God, and may God, in His grace, turn it into praise.

Deliverance from Another Sore Fit

In my distress I sought the Lord,
When naught on earth could comfort give,
And when my soul these things abhorred,
Then, Lord, Thou said’st unto me, “Live.”

Thou knowest the sorrows that I felt;
My plaints and groans were heard of Thee,
And how in sweat I seemed to melt,
Thou help’st and Thou regardest me.

My wasted flesh Thou didst restore,
My feeble loins didst gird with strength,
Yea, when I was most low and poor,
I said I shall praise Thee at length.

What shall I render to my God,
For all His bounty showed to me?
Even for His mercies in His rod,
Where pity most of all I see.

My heart I wholly give to Thee;
O make it fruitful, faithful Lord.
My life shall dedicated be,
To praise in thought, in deed, in word.

Thou know’st no life I did require,
Longer than still Thy name to praise,
Nor ought on earth worthy desire,
In drawing out these wretched days.

Thy name and praise to celebrate,
O Lord, for aye is my request.
O grant I do it in this state,
And then with Thee, which is the best.

 

Highlighting Harps Unhung

Harps Unhung: Praising God in the Midst of Captivity is a recently released poetry project by Eileen and Vicki Anderson. The mother/daughter team authored 150 poems based on the 150 Psalms using 150 unique poetry forms. The result is an artful and powerful journey into the beauty of the Psalms through the lens of their own laments and praise.

The vision for the project came from Eileen who completed 75 of the Psalm poems before she died of ovarian cancer in March 2013.  That’s when Vicki picked up the project, pursued the world of poetry, and persevered to honor her mom, while dealing with her own scars and surgeries.

The title comes from Psalm 137:1-3 (NIV):

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

In the preface Vicki explains their work in more detail:

Our vision for this book of poetry is that hurting, hopeless saints, in the very midst of the furnace of affliction, would, despite all perceived silence from God and feelings of abandonment, believe that just above their heads, seen only by the eyes of faith, is an unfurled banner, flapping wildly in the storms of heartache and suffering, it’s embroidered letters spelling out, “Love! My banner over you is LOVE!”.

I’m highlighting their book because I know many who are hurting and struggling with their own life circumstances, and I hope this will be a resource that ministers healing and encouragement. I also like how the authors urge readers to read the poems and the Biblical Psalms side by side to gain a deeper perspective.

Another reason I purchased Harps Unhung is because it’s a good reference for those who write poetry as they give a helpful index of the 150 poetical forms used. One of my personal goals is to write a song or hymn for all 150 Psalms, so this work is near my heart as well.

Have you considered authoring your own creative writing project based on the Psalms?

How Long?

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My tears have carved out deep ravines,
My eyes have washed away;
I cannot see who’s taunting me,
But I can feel their rage.

My soul is grieved by enemies,
Who spit and strike my face;
How long, O LORD, must I endure,
Before they make my grave?

My tears and sorrows have spilled out,
There’s nothing left to cry;
How long, O LORD, will You forget,
And leave me here to die?

In death I’ll trust Your promises,
To raise me to new life;
How short, O LORD, shall darkness seem,
In Your Eternal Light?

For there I will not see the tears,
That left this heart of mine;
But LORD, how long, will tears still flow,
Forever in Your mind?

Behind the lines

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13 ESV)

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