How Long, O Lord?

I’m in an online women’s Bible study that just started going through the book of James last night, and my home church had its second week of sermons on politics this Sunday. I am being reminded to “count it all joy” . . . “when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). I am being reminded that what affects me the most emotionally is a good sign of what I worship, that politics can become a false religion. I’m being reminded that the mature Christian will be filled with the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

But today, 200,000 people in my country are dead from Covid-19, many of which were preventable if our government had gotten its act together. But today, I cannot go outside because my lungs cannot handle breathing the air left behind by the fires surrounding us, people are losing their homes, and people have died while our president  repeatedly mocks our state and threatens not to send help. But today, three police officers who killed a black woman in her own house walked out of the court with little to no consequences, yet again. But today, myself and others like me who have lost our jobs due to the coronavirus search the news frantically to see if the government has finally found a compromise to help us with bills, our lost health insurance, and other needs. But today, my brother-in-law has to process the Zoom meeting he just had with his school district saying that he and all the other special education teachers will be going back to teaching in person on campus in October, even though they were given no plan on how this will actually be safe for them, their students, and their families. But today, evangelical pastors flout the law and refuse to take precautions on behalf of their parishioners because they’d rather take a political stance siding with a president that couldn’t care less about them. 

Today, I don’t know how to “count it all joy,” how not to be so emotionally invested in what’s going on politically, how to be at peace. Today I have no fun gifs with which to sprinkle my post. All I can do is listen to songs of lament on repeat, let the tears spill, let my heart hurt, lift up my voice in moaning grief and seething anger to my God, this God who cares for the vulnerable and lost, the widow and orphan, the sojourner and the poor so much that He came to earth to live amongst them, befriend them, teach them, feed them, heal them, then die for them. 

O, how my soul grieves! O, how my heart burns in anger! O, how my very body longs for God’s return and the redemption of this broken world! O, how helpless I feel, shut up rather safe and comfortable in my mother’s house, unable to fix anything for anyone, unable to even hug friends to comfort them, or march for righteous justice, or weep with my church in person! O, how I yearn for a new day to dawn of empathy and compassion, generosity and love! 

Politics is surrounding and directly affecting all of these things and more. There are immediate and long term needs everywhere I look. There is violence and hatred, cruelty and selfishness, a deep desire for power and a lack of care for those who need it most when I look at the political landscape. There is pain and loss and heartbreak, illness and death, grief and anger for so many who are meant to be served by our government.

Tears, slow yet steady, run down my face as I type this. I have no answers but my cries to the God of the universe, my Father, my creator, who IS love. Another day I will try to wrap my head around how to balance loving others well in this political landscape, how to find joy in it, how to find hope in the Lord in the midst of it, how to speak truth with love, how not to judge others harshly, how to view politics as important but not ultimate, how to participate in politics in ways that love my neighbors and help enact God’s desire for the flourishing of others, especially the vulnerable. Another day I, like David, will rejoice in God’s steadfast love and remember His bountiful gifts to us. But today I lament. Today I wish for sackcloth and ashes. I wish to tear out my hair and wail in the streets. Today I cannot stop the tears, I will not stop them. Today I will pray in sobs and songs and groans and wordless numbness. Today I will not be ok.

Psalm 13
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
 
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? 
How long will you hide your face from me? 
How long must I take counsel in my soul 
and have sorrow in my heart all the day? 
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? 
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; 
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, 
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” 
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. 
But I have 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.

8 thoughts on “How Long, O Lord?”

  1. Thank you for these words and sharing your laments. I feel so heard and seen when reading them. And I hope you feel heard and seen. Your are not alone in how hard this time is and has been. Finding joy is a struggle these days.

  2. I have been walking around totally numb. I would love to fold up into a fetal position with both hands to my face and cry myself to sleep, but tears will not come. Did you feel numb before your tears came?

    Thank you for the words that fit my feelings.

    1. I felt numb in between tears. It was weird. Allowing myself the time and space to sit alone and listen to songs of lament helped the tears come, which I think I needed. But there are so many different responses to this which are all valid, numbness included. May God be with you this week.

  3. In some weird way, I find comfort in Psalms that express confusion and pain, anger and frustration. They speak for me, confirming that even then there were realities similar to (or worse than) mine, which couldn’t be sugar-coated by some super-faith. Even Yeshua H’Maschiach Himself fell on His face in the garden and begged for the dark reality of that terrible cup be taken from Him. As we face what I can’t help believe are the consequences of humanity going its own way, it’s comforting to know that even then, the biblical writers both felt pain and didn’t try to hide it with quotable calendar quips or dandy devotional dialectics. No. The pain was real, and I’m glad it was acknowledged as such. It gives me hope and reminds me that He weeps with me–and there is room for that weeping in His faith.

    Psalm 88
    1 A Song. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. For the choir director; according to Mahalath Leannoth. A Maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.
    O LORD, the God of my salvation, I have cried out by day and in the night before You.
    2 Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry!
    3 For my soul has had enough troubles, And my life has drawn near to Sheol.
    4 I am reckoned among those who go down to the pit; I have become like a man without strength,
    5 Forsaken among the dead, Like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom You remember no more, And they are cut off from Your hand.
    6 You have put me in the lowest pit, In dark places, in the depths.
    7 Your wrath has rested upon me, And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah.
    8 You have removed my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an object of loathing to them; I am shut up and cannot go out.
    9 My eye has wasted away because of affliction; I have called upon You every day, O LORD; I have spread out my hands to You.
    10 Will You perform wonders for the dead? Will the departed spirits rise [and] praise You? Selah.
    11 Will Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave, Your faithfulness in Abaddon?
    12 Will Your wonders be made known in the darkness? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
    13 But I, O LORD, have cried out to You for help, And in the morning my prayer comes before You.
    14 O LORD, why do You reject my soul? [Why] do You hide Your face from me?
    15 I was afflicted and about to die from my youth on; I suffer Your terrors; I am overcome.
    16 Your burning anger has passed over me; Your terrors have destroyed me.
    17 They have surrounded me like water all day long; They have encompassed me altogether.
    18 You have removed lover and friend far from me; My acquaintances are [in] darkness.

    1. Absolutely! The Psalms teach us how to truly lament, to cry out to God with honesty, pain, confusion, and even doubt at times. I love the brutal truth held there paired with faith.

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