Read Psalm 25.
When my oldest son, Jonah, was just a few months old, my wife, Laurin, and I received some scary news. His pediatrician was concerned that the bones in Jonah’s skull were fusing together too soon. If that happened, his brain could be injured. So, a few days later, we were in the hospital for a CT-scan to get a better look at Jonah’s head.
The nurse had me lay Jonah on the machine, a bed on a conveyer belt that would ease him into a magnetic tunnel. Then she put a heavy lead vest over his small body. He immediately began to squirm and cry. You know the one I’m talking about. That cranked-to-eleven, pull-out-all-the-stops, five-alarm panicked cry kids do? That was the one.
When they turned the machine on, Jonah would need to be perfectly still so the technician could get good pictures of his brain. I knew that wasn’t going to happen if he kept screaming, so I asked if I could hold my son’s hand. The nurse said no and turned the machine on. Jonah’s screams got more intense, and the machine came whirring to a temporary stop. I felt helpless standing there. I wanted to pick Jonah up and let him cry it all out on my shoulder, but that wouldn’t get these scans done.
“He’ll have to remain perfectly still,” the nurse said to me, as if I possessed baby magic, and then she signaled to the technician behind the glass to try again. Laurin and I tried comforting Jonah with words, but he didn’t want our words. I asked, once again, if I could hold Jonah’s hand. And once again, the nurse said no. I think she was having a bad morning.
A moment later, the machine whooshed loudly back to life. This time, however, Jonah concentrated all of his baby strength, squirming and heaving and pushing and twisting until he got one arm free. He reached over and grabbed my hand. The nurse rolled her eyes and said, “Fine.” She also pushed a button on the wall that projected shapes and colors on the inside of the machine. (Why hadn’t she done that initially?!) This time, between the light show and the fierce grip he had on my fingers, Jonah calmed down long enough for the technician to do his job.
When the test results came back, Laurin and I breathed a sigh of relief. These days, we even laugh about it. As it turns out, Jonah’s head was absolutely fine. His skull was perfectly normal for a boy his age. It just looked a bit too small to our pediatrician in comparison to his ridiculously cute, round baby cheeks.
But when we were living it, it was scary. That day at the hospital was an especially scary day for Jonah—strange place, strange people, strange (and loud) machine. It’s no wonder he was upset. But when he was able to push aside a corner of that lead vest and grasp my hand, a wave of calm set over him. Things were still scary for him, I’m sure, but he was tethered to his daddy. He could trust in the moment, because I was there.
In Psalm 25, David is in a tough spot. As is true of many of the Davidic psalms, it’s hard to know exactly what the trouble is. We do know David is lonely and in anguish (vv. 16–17). We also know he has numerous enemies who hate him passionately (v. 19). But, most importantly, we know he has placed his complete and total trust in the Lord (v. 1–3, 5, 15, 20–21).
It’s hard to trust in what you cannot see, especially when problems and setbacks are so easily seen. Our troubles often fill our field of vision. They shout loudly in our ears, drowning out sounds that might bring us peace. They keep us awake at night, and distract us during the day. All that can combine to make God seem very quiet and very far away. But He’s not. Take His hand.
David has chosen to trust God, despite what his senses tell him. He’s seeking the Lord, instead of seeking a way out of his problems: “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me” (vv. 4–5). These are not the words of a victim. Rather than being weighed down by his circumstances, David is pressing forward toward what really matters; he will not allow his enemies to rob him of the life God has promised. He is remaining tethered to the God who loves him.
No matter what comes our way—good, bad, or just plain scary—the best thing we can do, the thing we are commanded to do, is to reach out and take our Father’s hand.