How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain[a] 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
For the most part, we don’t express the struggles and challenges of life. We tend to cover over the rough places. You need only to think about the times you have been asked, “how are you?” And you replied “fine,” all the while knowing that you were broken inside. Walter Brugeggemann writes, “for the normal, conventional functioning of public life, the raw edges of disorientation and reorientation must be denied or suppressed for purpose public equilibrium. As a result, our speech is dulled and mundane. Our passion has been stilled and is without imagination. And mostly the Holy One is not addressed, not because we dare not, but because God is far away and hardly seems important.” Brueggemann is right. Mostly we just smile and say everything is ok, and faith feels like a nice addition to life, or at least in ordinary times that’s the way it is.
Recently, our sense of dislocation, our sense of things being strange is ever present. Recently I find myself thinking, is this going to end? Will we ever be normal, albeit a new normal? This week I have been listening to sermons from people seeking to be licensed and sent out into ministry in our Conference. I have been touched by the whole experience. Some chose this Psalm and spoke of the whole list of challenges that we seem to be facing in these days. One of the preachers said of our place, there is hope, but hope does not come until we learn to call out in lament. I think that is a word worth holding. Until we learn to speak our need, to ask honestly “how long, O Lord?” We will not be able to say with faith, real faith, “I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” I invite you to use the words of the Psalm as your prayer for this day.
Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light.
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.