In Our Time of Need. Two Sobering Poems & An Encouraging Word.

Today, I am reminded of two poems that describe the human condition. One is the best-known poem of British poet Steve Smith, Not Waving But Drowning.

Nobody heard him, the dead man. But still he lay moaning:

I was much further out than you thought and not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking and now he’s dead

It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way, they said.

Oh, no, no, no ~ it was too cold always (Still the dead one lay moaning)

I was much too far out all my life and not waving but drowning.

 

The second is W.H. Auden’s, September 1, 1939, written when he learnd of Germany’’s invasion of Poland.

“I sit in one of the dives

On Fifty-second street

Uncertain and afraid

As the clever hopes expire

Of a low dishonest decade:

Waves of anger and fear

Circulate over the bright

and darkened lands of the earth,

Obsessing our private lives;

The unmentionable odour of death

Offends the September night.

 

Faces along the bar

Cling to their average day:

The lights must never go out,

The music must always play,

All the conventions conspire

To make this fort assume

The furniture of home;

Lest we should see where we are,

Lost in a haunted wood,

Children afraid of the night

who have never been happy or good.”

These haunting poems get at the heart of our universal human frailty and need.

There are two times when humans need to ask for God’s help: The first is when bad things happen to good people. The second is when good people realize they’ve done bad things and may not be all that good after all!

When bad things happen to good people, they need grace to survive life’s overwhelming challenges.

When good people do bad things, they need mercy (Justice is getting what you deserve, mercy is not getting what you deserve, grace is getting what you don’t deserve!)

In one of the most encouraging verses in the Bible, the writer of Hebrews reminds us that through our prayers, God offers us grace and mercy in our time of need.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

The word for confidence in that text was drawn from “secular Greek” where citizens in a democracy were urged to engage in free and open speech.

So in our time of need we should approach God honestly, passionately and with a sense of urgency.

Jesus prayed that way. He made his prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears. Similarly, John Lennon once said, When you’re drowning, you don’t say ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,’ You just scream!”

In Eugene Peterson’s the message he captures the trust of the verse in Hebrews this way,  “ So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give.  Take the mercy, accept the help.”

 

Posted in Staublog in October 31, 2011 by | 1 Comment »

One Response to In Our Time of Need. Two Sobering Poems & An Encouraging Word.

  1. ST103111 | Dick Staub on November 10, 2011 at 10:05 am

    […] There are two times when humans need to ask for God’s help: The first is when bad things happen to good people. The second is when good people realize they’ve done bad things and may not be all that good after all! Read More. […]

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