Psalm 143 – An Interpretation From the Perspectives of Migrants and Immigrants

By Mayuris Pimentel, Attorney Maryland/DC-JFON


1  Hear my prayer, O Lord;
   give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness;
    answer me in your righteousness.


My name is child of God, I seek only an opportunity to make a decent living, only an opportunity to provide my family with enough food, adequate shelter, and adequate clothes.  At home the possibilities for providing my family even this are very limited.  I could often work all week and still not have enough to provide for my family adequately.  Is this just O Lord?  All I want is an opportunity.  So I cross man made borders in search of that opportunity.  I travel across rivers and deserts braving illness, dehydration, drowning, even death.  The names of places I travel to sound familiar to me – they are names in my own tongue – places where my ancestors raised their families before the land was taken from them by man made borders.  I cross borders and then become invisible.  I work two or three full time jobs for not even minimum wage and barely have time to sleep from day to day.  Give me rest, O Lord.  Hear my supplications for just an opportunity – in your faithfulness– let me know what else it is that I should do – answer me in your righteousness.


2  Do not enter into judgment with your servant,
    for no one living is righteous before you.


There are those that do not see me as a child of God but rather as an alien – a strange thing that is invading that which is theirs.  No one living is righteous before you.  They do not see the role that they play in the decisions I have to make.  They do not see that their actions often lead directly to the actions I must take.  They delight in the money they save by buying things in superstores with low prices.  They do not see how those super low prices are directly proportional to the lack of employment in my homeland.  They seek to build fences that separate one person from another and do not see that at the same time they are looking for more ways to reach the moon and all that is beyond the naked eye.  Why is it that fences are necessary on one side and not the other?  And is it a coincidence that the fences are necessary on the side where the faces are darker and not necessary on the side where the faces are lighter?  No, no one living is righteous before you.


3  For the enemy has pursued me,
    crushing my life to the ground,
    making me sit in darkness like those long dead.
4  Therefore my spirit faints within me;
    my heart within me is appalled.


The enemy has pursued me, the enemy of justice, the enemy of our common humanity – by calling me alien they do not have to know that my name is Rosario and that I too am a child of God.  As I journey across barren land seeking opportunity and fleeing my persecutors I wonder where you are.  Where are you that I am forced to make this journey, where are you that I am persecuted for it and may perish, where are you that if I do not make this journey I may still perish.  My spirit faints within me.  Where are you God?  Where are you that even when I work three jobs I may still not have enough because I am exploited and not paid a decent living wage.  Where are you that around the world babies are still dying at such an alarming rate in the process of coming into this, your creation, because of lack of health care – where are you that their mothers sometimes do not do much better.  Where are you that in many countries in this world after an honest day’s work a person still does not have enough?  Where are you O God?  My heart within me is appalled.


5  I remember the days of old;
  I think about all your deeds,
    I meditate on the works of your hands.
6  I stretch out my hands to you;
    my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.


I remember that this is not something new in this world.  I remember that this country was founded and prospered because of the labor of people coming from other places, just like me.  I remember that throughout history this country has excluded groups and eventually it has seen the error of its ways.  The history of this country and your work O Lord in this country help me to remember that things will not always be this way.  Hearts have been changed, attitudes have been turned around, and we are a witness to the good things that have come about because of these changes.  I meditate on the works of your hands.  In meditation I wait for justice.

While I wait, I stretch out my hands to you, I stretch out my hands, my heart, my soul, waiting for my blessing of a piece of this land.  I stretch out my hands, cupped, in expectation of that which has been promised to me – a future, a hope.  My soul, like the desert I cross, is parched.  How long O Lord?  Shower me with the dignity of being recognized as who I am – a brother, a sister, a child of God.  Send showers to quench the thirst of the land – send showers to quench my thirst.


7  Answer me quickly, O Lord;
    my spirit fails.
    Do not hide your face from me,
    or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.


My mother became a Lawful Permanent Resident – praise God!  She filed a petition for me.  I am 20 years old.  As the daughter of a Lawful Permanent Resident I must wait about two years for a visa to be available for me.  This means that by the time there will be a visa available for me to join my mother I will be in a different visa category and I will have to wait an additional six years.  My spirit fails.  I have not seen my mother in five years.  Do not hide your face from me, or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.


8  Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,
    for in you I put my trust.
    Teach me the way I should go,
    for to you I lift up my soul.
9  Save me, O Lord, from my enemies;
    I have fled to you for refuge.*


I came for the same reasons everyone else has come, for opportunity.  In time I had a son who was born with health problems.  I was thankful that he was able to get the help he needed because he had been born here in the United States.  After some time there was an order entered for my deportation.  Because of my son’s health problems there was a legislator who helped to have a bill passed that gave me special permission to stay here despite the order of deportation.  But this was only a temporary fix.  After years of living and working and trying to keep my son healthy, I have again been ordered to leave this country.  It is the only home my son has ever known.  My son will not have the same necessary medical services in our home country.  I feel that I have no other option but to stay in this country so that my son will have what he needs.  Sanctuary, I plead.  I have fled to you for refuge.


10  Teach me to do your will,
      for you are my God.
      Let your good spirit lead me
      on a level path.
11  For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life.
      In your righteousness bring me out of trouble.


In the 1970s I came as a refugee to this country because my country was in the middle of a civil war.  While here I had a son.  When the war was over at home I returned to my land and built a life there.  My family was there and we started a business.  When he was old enough my son came to live in the United States and be educated here.  In 2001 my husband died of AIDS.  At the time I was tested and was negative.  My son is now 21 years old and in college.  He also has a brain tumor.  I came to the United States to be with him and nurse him back to health.  Once here I realized that I could not go back home for he was too ill.  The tumor was inoperable and he needed to undergo treatment to reduce the size of the tumor and hope to have an operation to remove it.  We began the process for me to obtain legal permanent resident status.  One of the requirements of the process is a medical exam.  After the exam I was surprised to find that I was HIV positive.  My husband had passed the virus on to me.  For some reason it had not been detected before.  Now my son is sick with an inoperable brain tumor and I have an incurable disease.  Who will care for my son, so full of life yet to live?  How will I tell him that I am HIV positive – that he will probably lose both of his parents to this disease?  Neither one of us is working.  How can I prove that I will not become a public charge?  My ability to stay in the United States legally may now be in jeopardy.  All I want is to care for my son.  For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life.  In your righteousness bring me out of trouble.


12  In your steadfast love cut off my enemies,
      and destroy all my adversaries,
      for I am your servant.


All I ask is for your justice to be done.  Cut off my enemy’s hatred.  Cut off my enemy’s ignorance.  Cut off my enemy’s blindness.  Cut off my enemy’s complicitness.  Destroy the adversaries of misunderstanding, mistrust, mis-communication.  All I ask is for your justice to be done for I am your servant.