Prayer for a Spacious Place
Yesterday, at our management retreat, John led us in a reflection on Psalm 118. Verse five stood out to me as particularly pertinent at this time: “When hard pressed, I cried out to the LORD; he brought me into a spacious place.” There’s no doubt that, despite our increased freedoms, we have been hard pressed again this semester. Many students and staff have juggled varying levels of illness and isolation in themselves or their families, some for much of the semester. And this is not to mention the wider social, economic, political, or cultural impacts of Covid, let alone other issues we are facing personally or corporately. It is a hard time; we are hard pressed.
Psalm 118 is the concluding psalm of the Hallel collection, which the Jews used at Passover. It alludes to the return from exile, and celebrates God’s deliverance as the basis for hope. The psalm gives a very succinct account of God’s deliverance: the psalmist was in a tight spot (the word for “distress” has the sense of restricted, narrow, or tight), they cried out to God, and God gave them space. The image is of someone feeling strangled, constricted, and in distress, and the LORD rescued them to a broad place; a place where they could breathe. Many of us are currently hard pressed, and we too are crying out to God. My prayer is that God would bring us into a spacious place; a broad place where we can breathe. Our circumstances may not change, but things look different from a spacious place.