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Weekly Devotional

How Long?

Reflection by John Allen

“How long will you forget me, Lord.

            Forever?

            How long will you hide your face from me?

How long will I be left to my own wits

            agony filling my heart? Daily?

Look at me!

            Answer me, Lord my God!

But I have trusted in your faithful love.

            My heart will rejoice in your salvation

Yes, I will sing to the Lord

            because God has been good to me.”

            Psalm 13

 

Do you get whiplash reading this Psalm? The way it jumps from a profound sense of abandonment to a deep faith in God’s abiding love, I have a hard time holding those two things so close together.

That is probably, in part, because I grew up well-loved. It was never hard to believe that God was good, all the time. When I sat in church and heard that God loved me, it made sense, because the world loves me too.

That is not true for everyone. In Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of yet another unarmed black man, many faithful people are seeking to lift their voices in praise while facing a violent and cruel world, a world that does not always love them. A world that makes it harder to see God’s goodness.

I am inspired by the generations of faithful people who have lived in a world that hated them without losing touch with the unending truth of God’s love. Those who sing, “Nobody knows the trouble I've seen / Glory, Hallelujah” with scarcely a breath between the lines. I have a feeling that the authors of that spiritual spent some honest time with this Psalm.

This has been a hard summer for our nation and for the world. I want to start to learn the wisdom of this Psalm though, so that when my praises to God get stuck in my throat, I can set them free with an honest cry. How long O God?

Prayer: Holy One, give us the courage to to tell the truth and the wisdom to hear the truths of others. Set our praises free by teaching us to be honest with you. Amen.

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