“How long?” - March 10, 2021
“Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death.” Psalm 13:3 (NIV)
We are reaching the point of marking a year of living under our pandemic cloud, its restrictions and its many trying consequences, including severe illness and death. However, without even factoring in this past year, we all know life on its own has enough burdens to carry and troubles to endure. Just thinking of these past several days with deaths of treasured loved ones in our communities, it’s been a heavy week.
Psalm 13 is a lament psalm, possibly the most well-known. The lament psalms are valuable to the spiritual community because they give permission and even encourage our crying out to God. Lament psalms give opportunity for the raw expression of the hurt we feel, allowing us to forward our naked emotional pain directly to God Himself. In a world that likes to avoid pain, anesthetize real life and sanitize even death, it is helpful for us to have models that show us that an intense crying out to God is an acceptable part of being a person of faith.
During Lent, we are mindful of the suffering of Jesus. His suffering included intense prayers for release in the Garden of Gethsemane and agonizing cries from the cross, quoting the lament psalm, Psalm 22. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?” (22:1)
As followers of Jesus, we embrace God’s mysterious but powerful work of turning the suffering of Jesus into the redemption of the world and the ultimate victory over all suffering. Although we can’t be sure how long it took, the poet in Psalm 13 eventually is moved to a place of saying “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” (13:6)
We lament. We look to trust God’s unfailing love.
Here is only one of many Psalm 13 versions in song available online. The Psalms Project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAhsVoJjF9E