We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped. – Psalm 124:7 (NRSVue)
Nothing prepares us for the shock of betrayal, even when we have been betrayed before. Like death, it may not be a complete surprise. We know the habits, the proclivities, the tendencies of the betrayer. We have told ourselves a story—about them, about ourselves—to stay in relationship. Spouse or lover, boss or colleague, friend or foe, we have built our trust in the story we worked to believe, like birds in snares of our own making.
Betrayal, then, lands like a blow both from behind and right in front of us. It should have been obvious; how could we not have known?
In such a moment, in the small hours of the middle of the night, I remember sending emails to friends who would not wake for hours, too embarrassed to wake any person who might have consoled me. I should have known, you see. I did not know the words to pray. I swiped open a “favorite” on my phone and clicked through to a psalm.
When no one else is awake, when every door seems closed, when the sun is hours away, there is a psalm for every middle-of-the-night. We find the cries of long ago, people pleading with God, for reasons just like ours: alone, ill, grieving. Whoever collected them knew how much we would need them, knew how to liberate us from the snare, or at least be with us in it. They promise us that we will be free.
Holy God of the Middle of the Night, break the snares that hold us and free us for what comes next. Amen.