A WEEKLY WALK THROUGH THE PSALMS
‘How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” It is interesting that in our walk through the psalms, this psalm should fall during Holy Week. It is during this week that we are reminded of Jesus’ words from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Sound familiar? Not only do we hear that message in this psalm, but surely words like that are spoken by every person of faith at some time or another. The Bible is a very honest book, and its honesty is expressed in the many complaints and questions it records against God. Maybe that is why the words speak to us so deeply. This psalm is not much different than other psalms we encounter. Its words express the deep emotions of a troubled soul. The psalmist is under a burden of ongoing sorrow and trouble. On top of that, there are those in the community who seem to like the fact that he is suffering. In the midst of all of that, he is confused by what seems to be indifference by God to his appeal for help, because not only would his downfall be seen as a win for his enemies but would also seem to refute everything he has believed about God. And yet, in spite of all the difficulties that were piled on top of him, his faith not only holds firm, but even seems to get stronger. Such is the power of this brief psalm.
His complaint is grounded not only on the belief that God seems to have forgotten about him, but also that God seems unwilling to listen to his appeal for help and instead hides His face from him. He asks that God ‘lighten his eyes’. Struggles tend to dull our vision of what is, and of what is possible. Not only that, but struggles have the power to wear us down ‘lest we sleep the sleep of death’. And if that happens, not only will God lose a faithful servant, but his foes will rejoice that what they thought about God not coming through is true after all.
What the psalmist seems to do, though, is to stop brooding about all of that and instead ‘count his blessings’. We may say that is easier said than done sometimes, but we do find that there is much more to think about when our focus is not just on our problems but on God’s bounty as well. What is amazing is where this psalmist comes out with all of this. Despite what he has felt, despite what seems to be happening – or not happening – in his life, he has never given up his trust in his Lord. He is confident that God will come through because that is who his God is. And so, he is able to sing a hymn of thanksgiving based on what he believes God is yet to do. He anticipates God’s help and deliverance: “I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” Just as this psalmist was not forgotten by God, just as Jesus was not God forsaken, neither are we. May we sing to the Lord as well because of how God has dealt, is dealing and will deal bountifully with us.
PRAYER: Loving and merciful God, hear the prayers of those who cry to you, and shine with the light of your presence on those who live in the shadow of death. May we rejoice in your saving help and sing you songs of praise in the name of our risen Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.