Like An Evening Shadow

 “Like an evening shadow . . .”

“. . . I am hurt to the depths of my heart.  Like an evening shadow I am about to vanish . . .” (Psalm 109:22-23)

I was struck by the evening shadows as I watched the sun going down at the peewee football games this past Sunday.  Shadows that earlier in the day would have mirrored the body outline of an individual or group were then, as I observed,  merely stretched-out threads, devoid of much shape, and just as easily could have been cast by fence posts, light poles, or even yard-markers like the one in the foreground.  The humanness of the shadows was long gone leaving a mere wisp of what might have been. 

I dare say there have been times when most of us might have expressed the same sentiment as the psalmist, “. . . I am hurt to the depths of my heart.  Like an evening shadow I am about to vanish . . .”  I find myself the last couple of weeks drawn to psalms of lament.  Psalm 137 was a lectionary reading in worship this past Sunday.  The photo drew me to Psalm 109.  In both the individuals are offering up their prayers of suffering and hurt.  Their words offer in excruciating detail how they came to their place of horror and the ugliness of their despair.  These are folks whose suffering has pushed them to the point of desperation.  They cry to God for more than just help.  In Psalm 137 they hope that others will take their enemy’s babies and, “. . . smash them against a rock.”  In Psalm 109 they say of their enemy, “May his children become orphans and his wife a widow!  May his children be homeless beggars; may they be driven from the ruins they live in.”

Obviously many different meanings can be drawn from these laments.  First and foremost, I suspect, is the fact that they’re recorded for us so we can see how the love of God can triumph through the worst of our despair.  On this consideration of the psalms I’m drawn to another feature – just how ugly we can become when we hurt.  Have you ever stood back and considered the ugliness of something that’s come from your mouth when you’ve been hurt?  Have you ever listened to yourself and later shaken your head in disbelief when you’ve considered just how hurtful your words might have been?  I have, and I’ve done it enough to know that I want to change it.  Maybe you’ve never said, “I hope your babies are dashed against the rocks,” but how about, “I hope you rot in hell,” or, “I never want to see or talk to you again,” or, “____________ .”  Then again, maybe you have . . .  It’s almost as though our humanness has slipped away like the evening shadows . . .

Often when we lash out with something this hurtful we focus on our anger and feel justified for its intensity because of the severity of our hurt.  We may even lead with, “I have a right to be this angry!” almost as though we’re convinced we want vindication for our angry feelings instead of healing for our hurt.  If we focus on the hurt and lifting that before God and even one another by saying something like, “I’m really hurting!” or “You really hurt me!” instead of, “I hope you rot in hell,” or, “I never want to talk to you again!” (our versions of the biblical hoping that their children are smashed against the rocks or made homeless orphans) we might come closer to getting what we really need – healing. 

I pray that when life leaves me feeling like an evening shadow, I’ll remember to lift my hurt to God, and be careful with those I know and love.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia


Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

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~ by revgenelson on October 9, 2013.

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