Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. Psalm 118:5

Paul wrote: Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation. 2 Corinthians 1:7

There are times when we can only focus on our problems. Perhaps loss of a job, a serious illness, or death of a loved one. In these times of distress, it is easy to just despair and think only hopeless thoughts. It  is much like being stuck in a small place where there seems to be no way out. The writer of Psalm 118 has experienced such distress, and remembers to call on the Lord.  

This Psalm is a song of thanksgiving – maybe a part of a liturgy after a successful hard-fought battle, or a celebration of the return from exile. The Lord answers the call of the writer, and the people and sets them in a broad place – what might that be? Other translations say a safe place, or being set free. In the context of the Psalm, the people are set free from war and exile.  

Our distress is just as real. Even though we aren’t in the midst of wars, there are other battles. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about sharing in suffering. This certainly can refer to the suffering and health issues that Paul had, but it can apply to us as well. As Jesus came to live among us, He shared in our suffering and understands what we go through The Good News is the consolation, and the promise of God’s presence in our lives, consoling us and setting us free.     

Never, O God, did you promise that your followers would not suffer—just the opposite! Faithful Lord, when we feel lost or alone help us to remember that we are never lost to you. You promise to walk beside us in our suffering and to console us with your presence and love. Open our eyes to see that you are always with us. Thank you. In Jesus’ holy name, we pray. Amen.  

Chris Gabel