How Long, O Lord?
Posted in Suffering/Healing
Scripture: “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, ‘I have prevailed’; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken. But I trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” – Psalm 13: 1-6
Our Psalm for today is a short but intense Psalm of lament, asking where is God in the midst of the Psalmist’s chaos and turmoil. It also invites us to look at the chaos in our own lives and know that we can ask, “Where are You, God?”
This Psalm is used as the model for lament Psalms in Biblical studies because it contains the familiar lament structure, beginning with the address and crisis, then moving to complaint, from there to petition, then to the confession of trust, and finally to the promise of praise. As you read today’s scripture, listen to the ways these words are speaking to you right here and right now.
In the first two-thirds of this Psalm, we find the Psalmist David lamenting the fact that God has not shown up in the ways he was expecting. He is fearful for his life and is tired of being stuck in this situation. His asking the rhetorical question, “How long, O Lord,” sets a baseline for us, as the readers, to understand the amount of pain and suffering he is feeling in this moment. He is saying, “God I know you are there, so why aren’t you answering me when I call? Why have you turned away from me right in my time of need?”
For many of us, this text hits home right now. This is where so many of us can viscerally understand what the Psalmist is expressing. Lament Psalms invite us to share our most authentic and genuine feelings with God and know that God can take it. They give us the example of how, during our times of suffering and anger with God, we can turn to instead of away from him. Through these Psalms, we can share our whole selves with God, in order that we may have a fuller, more developed relationship with Him.
And then we come to verses five and six, which may catch you by surprise at first, in how quickly the Psalmist moves from his anger and hurt to a proclamation of trust and praise. All of a sudden, he goes from pleading with God for his life to praising God for God’s steadfast love. It is in this section where we find the continued sense of hope from the Psalmist. We see that, even in the depths of his despair, he has not given up on believing in God’s love and care for him. He is reminding himself that this is not the whole picture and that this time of suffering and persecution is not the end.
Even in our cries of sorrow or anger, remember that God has claimed us and sealed us with his covenantal love.
Prayer: Lord, open our hearts and minds by the power of your Holy Spirit, that as we read the Psalms and Your Word is proclaimed, we may hear, with joy, your promise of steadfast love. Amen.
Submitted by Pastor Nick Demuynck