“You gave me room…”: A Lenten Reflection on Ps. 4:1

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Psalm 4 – 3/6/17

Upon reading this psalm, I was struck by a single verse.  Or actually, one part of a single verse:  

“You gave me room when I was in distress.”

(Ps. 4:1b)

What comes immediately before and after that– “Answer me when I call, O God of my right!” [before] and “Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.” [after]–are clearly requests, pleas even, to God.  But sandwiched in there, whether as a reminder to David himself of God’s past behavior, meant to reassure him of God’s compassion in times gone by, or as a reminder to God of God’s past behavior, meant to recall to God’s mind the compassion God had previously shown David, sandwiched in there is a little jewel:

“You gave me room when I was in distress.”

(Ps. 4:1b)

That phrase, “You gave me room,” immediately brought to mind another phrase, one that a dear friend introduced me to several months ago and whose meaning spoke deeply to me:  “holding space.”

When you “hold space” for someone–particularly someone who, like David, is “in distress”–you join with them on their journey.  You offer yourself as a nonjudgmental companion, willing to go with them wherever they need to go.  You follow their lead, letting them set the agenda and offering unconditional support and love along the way.  You don’t try to fix them, you don’t try to make them act in the way that you think is right; you simply try to be as fully present as you can, acknowledging that the person for whom you are “holding space” has within themselves everything they really need to move through their difficult time.  And by “being held” in that kind of space, by being accompanied without being judged, by being heard without being fixed, by being supported without being scrutinized, that person will be freed to do just that–to look within themselves and discover that they have within themselves whatever it is they need, be it strength or courage or wisdom or patience or….  Holding space for anotherwhat a beautiful gift!

So back to the phrase from Psalm 4–David says to God, “You gave me room when I was in distress.”  That sounds to me like God held space for David.  That sounds to me like when David was in distress, God walked alongside him.  When David was “in a tight place,” as it is translated in The Message, God was right there with him, not fixing, not manipulating the outcome (or David), not judging, not running away in the face of trouble, but simply there, with him, offering all of the strength and peace and comfort the Presence of God can bring…which just might have reminded David of the strength and peace and courage he had within himself….

“You gave me room when I was in distress.”

(Ps. 4:1b)

Perhaps David’s first plea,  “Answer me when I call, O God of my right!” was just that, a desperate plea for God’s attention and help.  And then, perhaps, David remembered.  Perhaps he remembered another time he had cried out to God.  And he remembers how God responded, his shout of anguish shifting to a whisper of recollection:  “[Oh yeah…] You gave me room when I was in distress….”  And then, in gratitude, perhaps he prays, “Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer….”  Hold space for me again, O God….for I am again in distress….Walk with me, stay with me, be with me in my distress…and I will be all right.

If God gave David room in his distress, God will give us room in ours, too.

“Hold space” for us, Loving God.  And help us to know we are being held in our distress, that You are walking with us, journeying alongside us, not fixing, not judging, not manipulating.  Just loving, and not leaving; empowering, emboldening, encouraging; giving us room to discover your Spirit within us….

Thanks be to God!

Amen.

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2 thoughts on ““You gave me room…”: A Lenten Reflection on Ps. 4:1

  1. Diane

    What an insightful reflection on this verse! I feel challenged to make this my personal mission statement. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Deb!

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