How Long, O Lord?~Psalm 13
If there was a prayer of the year, it would be Psalm 13. How long, O Lord? How long until we can reunite with loved ones without fear of contracting or spreading the Coronavirus? How long do we have to wear unflattering masks that are both hot and uncomfortable? How long until we can safely sit down in our favorite restaurants with close friends? How long until we can worship together in the sanctuary? That last question I have heard more than once since arriving, and a question I pray daily.
The psalmist goes further than asking the question. Each time they ask how long, their complaint becomes more intense towards God. How long will you forget me? How long will you hide your face? How long must I bear pain in my soul?
Like most things in life, waiting grows in intensity over time. Just like waiting to feel better, waiting for pain to go away, waiting for that promotion, waiting to graduate or waiting to retire, you will have moments where your complaints of waiting become desperate. This is life, and our prayers to God should reflect that. If you feel this way, God can handle your deepest laments. In fact, God invites us to partake in sacred complaining.
Verse 5 and 6 mark a dramatic shift where the psalmist, after releasing all of this pent up anger, writes, “But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because God has dealt bountifully with me.” Scholars believe that either the psalmists’ conditions changed or in the midst of waiting, they realized blessings have continued to graciously pour from Godself.
In my experience, the latter holds more truth. In this moment we find ourselves in, where we are all asking “how long?” God’s sustaining presence continues to reach us in new ways. Even in the waiting God is reaching out to us, inviting us to join and revel in the blessings of where we are.
I am very eager to get to know you all. Trust me, I have been looking forward to experiencing one of your famous potlucks since speaking with the search committee, but that may not happen for a while. After moving back to Ohio, Jessica and I were looking forward to seeing family but that too has been put on-hold. While all this is going on, Jessica and I await the birth of our first child. In our lives, we are called to lament and complain, but at the same time recognize God’s abundant blessings occurring at the same time.
I invite you to take a moment, and pray for what you long for. What is it that you want God to hear, “How long?” I also invite you to pray with thanksgiving what God is doing or has done recently in your life. How long? Maybe a little longer, but God is still speaking now.
Blessings for your journey,