This psalm is the cry of the one unjustly persecuted, sought out, who seeks to be recognized as an innocent. I cannot but think of the cry of this past year – “Don’t shoot!” as hands lift in the air. “I can’t breathe!” “Black lives matter”. I think of the many young people who lost their lives, not for being tried in court and found guilty of crimes, but simply for being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Or, worse yet, by an unstable person with a badge and a gun whose prejudice or shell-shocked soul had not been found out until too late.
This psalm is the prayer, too, of people like Alan Turing who in the early twentieth century was convicted not as a hero who helped the British win World War II against the NAZIs through code-breaking and the inventor of the first model for a computer, but instead as a criminal simply for being gay. His mistreatment for the “crime” of being who he was ultimately led to his death. It is the cry of all who, like countless gay and transgender people in the Western world for centuries, and still many such people in countless countries in our world, who find being who they are to be against the law.
They cry “we are innocent!”
Do you feel, also, persecuted for who you are? If so, this psalm reminds you God sees. The hurting, the persecuted, the suffering are described as under the sheltering wing of the Spirit and the apple of God’s eye. For Jesus, too, was persecuted for who he was and found guilty when innocent because he did not fit in. Know God is with you.
If you, like me, find yourself not persecuted, judged, or threatened for who you are, hear this cry as an invitation to look for who is wrongly persecuted and oppressed around us. Know that God stands with them, and is present in the forces working to right that wrong and bring equity. God calls you and me to stand with God, beside such ones. We are invited to participate in God’s work which a late friend who was a Jewish rabbi described to me as “tikkum olam”, repairing the world. God chooses not to simply snap heavenly fingers and say “make it so” but to repair what is broken in the world through the partnership of people like you and me.
Let’s join God in this work today, knowing together with God we can be a force of healing and hope.