Recently, my 8-year-old son had a nightmare, in which he had been bitten by a black widow spider. Making matters worse, in his dream he called for help, but neither his mom nor I would come. When he told me this, I was astonished; I had a very similar nightmare when I was around his age. In my dream, I told my parents that I had been bitten by a black widow, and they laughed at me. I'm almost positive I never told Will about that, yet he was haunted by the same scary scenario in his sleep. I think I know why: There is nothing quite so devastating as feeling like you are all alone in your suffering. David knew that feeling. In Psalm 142, he wrote: Look to the right and see; for there is no one who regards me; there is no escape for me; no one cares for my soul.
Many of you know that feeling as well. You are still grieving the loss of a loved one, when people around you think that you should've been over it a long time ago. Or you look fine on the outside, but your body is racked with constant, driving pain. Or it's been so long since you had a really good friend, you're starting to think there is something wrong with you; something undesirable about you. Or maybe your suffering isn't so easy to define; maybe you just feel a sense of quiet, numbing despair that isn't related to any one circumstance. Our culture doesn't know how to handle people in pain. We want them to take a pill, get over it, stop bringing the rest of us down. Which just makes you feel worse, like the square peg who's raining on everyone else's parade. As we'll see in this week's sermon text (1 Samuel 22:1-5), David was in a cave when he wrote Psalm 142. And that is what many of you feel like: Stuck in the cave of despair with no hope of escape.
This Sunday is Easter. It's a day when we rejoice in the greatest gift we've ever been given. Let's just admit, however, that when we're stuck in the cave of despair, saying, "He is risen indeed!" isn't enough to take away the pain, no matter how true it might be. So what can we count on from God when we're stuck in that cave? We'll take a look at what David learned this Sunday.