A Midweek Devotional - How long?
We often use these midweek devotionals to connect with an upcoming sermon passage. This week, however, I’d like to take us to the psalms, not to interact with an upcoming sermon but rather to interact with a question that I sense is on many of our hearts: “How long, O Lord?”
Wednesday, March 11th
Passage for Reflection - Psalm 13
Reflecting on the Text:
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” How long will the coronavirus rage unchecked? How long will my anxiety rage unchecked? How long will I experience the constant drumbeat of pain? How long must I endure the weariness of watching aging parents grieve the loss of a spouse? How long must I endure the exhaustion of caregiving…an exhaustion I feel guilty to even voice? How long will my family experience financial struggles, health struggles, job struggles? Fill in the blank. How long O Lord?!?
Is this your heart’s cry? What do you do with it? Many of us don’t know. A few will talk to a trusted friend, but many of us either don’t have that friend or don’t feel comfortable sharing with them. So we silently languish. But God’s Word draws us out, modeling for us how to bring these fears and questions before the Lord. That’s right, God in His Word has shown us how to lament.
In Psalm 13, the psalmist is weary. He feels forgotten. Neglected. He wonders aloud how long he will have to look inward for hope and solace (v. 2), knowing full well how empty that hope will prove to be. He wonders how long he’ll have to withstand humiliation before his foes.
Then, in v. 3, he seems to beg the Lord to take up his case. “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God.” The psalmist’s wording almost seems shocking. Who talks to the Lord this way? This kind of request is either the height of arrogance and disrespect, or….it is the marker of a deep, raw, abiding relationship. We read and wonder, but then we remember this is God’s Word. That truth then begins to encourage us. God is giving us a model for how we can/should talk to Him.
The psalmist is holding nothing back as he brings his condition before the Lord. But then in v. 5, we find what appears to be a turn in the psalmist’s mood. “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.” It is most certainly a turn in tone. But maybe it is not a turn in trust. God is inviting the psalmist’s lament in the context of trust, and the psalmist is expressing his lament in that same context. His trust is in the character of God.
His trust is in the steadfast love of God which he showers upon His covenant children even when they don’t seem to be experiencing it through their circumstances. And there is the answer to the psalmist’s longing. God doesn’t answer with a time frame. He doesn’t give a countdown to let us know when our circumstantial longing will be answered. Instead, He reminds the psalmist and us that we are objects of His steadfast love.
God’s Word is modeling Godly lament, showing us how to struggle with our current situation (whatever that may be) in a way that nurtures intimacy with God rather than pushes against it. It shows us how to rejoice in our salvation even while wrestling in our circumstances. It teaches us to sing to the Lord.
For a multitude of reasons, many of us are asking, “How long, O Lord?” My temptation as a “fixer” is to try and answer that question, as foolish and empty as my attempt might be. But God’s Word offers a different response. Bring it to Him in the context of trust, and hope. Regardless of the circumstance, He does not leave nor forsake His children. That would be contrary to His promise, and His character. Instead, Psalm 13 points us to His enduring character…His steadfast love. Trust in Him.
Questions for personal reflection:
Where are you asking, “How long, O Lord?”
How have you put words to this question before others? Before the Lord?
Will you allow the Psalms to shape your lament before the Lord?