Rock Bottom

Help, God—I’ve hit rock bottom!

    Lord, hear my cry for help!

Listen hard! Open your ears!

    Listen to my cries for mercy.


If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings,

    who would stand a chance?

As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit,

    and that’s why you’re worshiped.


I pray to God—my life a prayer—

    and wait for what God will say and do.

My life’s on the line before God, my Lord,

    waiting and watching till morning,

    waiting and watching till morning.


O Israel, wait and watch for God—

    with God’s arrival comes love,

    with God’s arrival comes generous redemption.

No doubt about it—God’ll redeem Israel,

    buy back Israel from captivity to sin.

-Psalm 130, The Message


Rock bottom. The NRSV, the translation we usually use in worship, says “the depths.” Some people call it “the pits.” Anne of Green Gables says it’s the “depths of despair.” I’ve heard it called a “dumpster fire.” Whatever you call it, you know the feeling of being there. When nothing can possibly get worse, when you’re at the end of your rope, when your life begins to feel like it belongs in a blues ballad or at least a sad country song. That’s where Psalm 130 begins.

After all, from the depths, what is more natural than to cry out for help? 12-Step programs and other recovery resources often state that somebody has to hit rock bottom before they start to look for help. It’s not just true for addiction, but for all kinds of trouble: financial, emotional, job, relationships, health. Most of us would rather risk crashing than ask for help. Rock bottom.

Sometimes we end up in the pits through no fault of our own, watching helplessly as everything goes wrong around us. Whatever we might pretend about being in control of our lives, deep down we know that much is beyond our ability to manage.

However we end up in the depths of despair, one thing is sure: we need a way out. A dumpster fire is no place to linger. 

Out of the rock bottom depth, the psalmist calls to God for help. 

And then they wait.

As they wait, they trust. They remind themselves that God will come with love and redemption. That’s what God has done every other time they’ve been in the pits. Why should this time be any different? God will surely rescue them. That’s just what God does. 

That’s not all, though. Having reassured themselves that God will arrive with love for them, the psalmist reassures everybody else in the pit that God is most certainly coming to redeem, no doubt about it.

When you’re in the depths of despair, this psalm is for you. Whatever has brought you to rock bottom, cry out to God and trust that God is coming for you with forgiveness, love, and redemption.

God, when I hit the bottom and life is a dumpster fire, I wait for you. Restore me with your forgiveness, revive me with your love, and redeem me with your mercy. Amen.