10Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery. 11They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High. 12That is why he broke them with hard labor; they fell, and no one was there to help them. 13“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. 14He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains. 15Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. 16For he broke down their prison gates of bronze; he cut apart their bars of iron.

Psalm 107:10-16

This is a difficult scripture to read. I recall times when I sat in deepest gloom, imprisoned in chains of misery. But had I rebelled against the word of God? Had I scorned the counsel of the Most High? That rings harsh to my ears.

It might help to read it backwards. God snaps the chains of despair, rescuing from darkness and gloom those who cry out in distress. The “hard labor” from the Lord caused them to fall, opening their eyes to see that they were in need of help.

Perhaps the “hard labor” of the Lord comes because I am not listening. The Lord leaves me to my own abilities, I experience the full force of my limitations — that is the “hard labor.” I am no match for the heaviness of despair. It is in this place of what feels like utter abandonment that I know in the deepest part of me that I NEED the Lord.

When I will not allow God to help, when I will not turn to him until I experience hard labor, he stands by watching. But when I cry out, he responds! He breaks down the gates and cuts the bars of iron to free me from the grip of despair and gloom. He brings me home to himself.

Praise the Lord for his great love and his faithfulness to me!

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