In Sunshine and
in Shadows

Faith is more than laughter and lightness, confidence and cheer; it is misery and melancholy, doubt and even despair. Faith is fierce honesty: crying out to God when necessary and needful; speaking truthfully and fearlessly.

The Scripture

Psalm 102
New Revised Standard translation

Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you. Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call. For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace.

My heart is stricken and withered like grass; I am too wasted to eat my bread. Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my skin. I am like an owl of the wilderness, like a little owl of the waste places. I lie awake; I am like a lonely bird on the housetop.

All day long my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse. For I eat ashes like bread, and mingle tears with my drink, because of your indignation and anger; for you have lifted me up and thrown me aside. My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.

But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; your name endures to all generations. You will rise up and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to favor it; the appointed time has come. For your servants hold its stones dear, and have pity on its dust.

The nations will fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth your glory. For the Lord will build up Zion; he will appear in his glory. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and will not despise their prayer.

Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord: that he looked down from his holy height, from heaven the Lord looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die; so that the name of the Lord may be declared in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem, when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.

He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days. “O my God,” I say, “do not take me away at the midpoint of my life, you whose years endure throughout all generations.”

Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you endure; they will all wear out like a garment. You change them like clothing, and they pass away; but you are the same, and your years have no end.

The children of your servants shall live secure; their offspring shall be established in your presence.

Photo of a flower

Prayer of the Afflicted by Deborah Beach Giordano


O my God! Why have You stopped listening?
Have You given up on me?
You’ve got to answer, answer soon,
before my last fragment of strength evaporates
and I disappear.

I am hollow:
empty of all emotion, numb, unfeeling.
My heart is still beating,
but slowly, weakly, wearily,
the cadence of a dirge.

Birds cry lamentations; trees hang their heads,
grass withers, the sun is dim;
all of nature is in mourning.

I am lost, lonely, a stranger wherever I go;
a pelican without wings,
a bat fluttering in the daylight.
a dead man, walking:
no one will miss me when I go.

I feel no hunger; I forget to eat:
everything is tasteless, gray, and dull.
I sometimes sleep but do not rest;
dreams — like hope — no longer exist.
Life itself has turned to ashes;
I’ve begun to fade away.

But You, You, O my God, are eternal;
You will never be forgotten.
From age to age,
Your grace and glory shine like the sun —
on the evil as well as the good.

Where are You? You,
the One who hears the prayers of the destitute,
those devoid of strength,
impoverished of hope;
the lost,
the least,
the despairing.
O my God, why can’t You hear my prayer?

I write this so others may know,
the living and those yet unborn
who sorrow and grieve,
who grow weak and give up;
for all people of all generations.

From the heights God reached down to touch the earth,
to hear the groans and the sighing,
the cries and the weeping:
to release from suffering
those who made an appointment with death.
Here, even here, God is with us.

Give praise to God, do not despair;
God’s love spreads across the cosmos like a net;
no one can escape it.
God’s goodness and mercy catches us as we fall.

My strength failed along the way.
I said, “O my God, Your faithfulness is without ending.
You are in the midst of Your people
throughout all generations;
like a cloak You cover them,
like a mother hen You shelter them.

Into Your hands I commend my spirit;
there I shall be secure.