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How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain 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 the LORD has dealt bountifully with me.

                                                                                        - Psalm 13

How is it that the writer of this Psalm, who lived thousands of years ago, in a vastly different culture, knew exactly how so many of us would be feeling in the final months of the year 2020? How is it that the writer of this Psalm is asking the very same question we are asking: "How long, O LORD?" To be completely honest, I'm not sure whether I find it more comforting or more troubling that people of faith throughout the ages have wrestled with depression and despair, fear and foreboding, helplessness and hopelessness, and all the while wondered where God was and why God wasn't doing something about it.

I think one of the most significant differences between the Psalmist and us is that we live in a world where we are becoming more and more accustomed to instant gratification. Many of the things we want we are able to get right away. Doesn't it drive you crazy when you want something you can't find in a local store and you are forced to wait two whole days before Amazon can deliver it to your doorstep? I have a feeling that people of old valued the virtues of patience and perseverance more than we do.

Besides patience and perseverance, there are some other virtues I believe the Psalmist can help us with. The first are honesty and openness. The Psalmist has no qualms about telling God exactly how they feel, even when those feelings call into question God's goodness. (How long will you hide your face from me?) Not only do they share these feelings with God, they share them with the rest of us. Sharing our suffering, and openly questioning God, should not be signs of weakness or lack of faith.

In fact, I'm convinced that the Psalmist understand questioning God, even arguing with God, as a sign of a strong and vibrant faith. People of faith openly wrestle and argue with God not because they lack faith, if that were the case why engage God at all, but precisely because they are in a meaningful relationship with God which seems broken in some way. Here's where the other virtue of the Psalmist comes into play. Even in the midst of the questioning and doubting, there is still faith and hope and mindfulness of God's past faithfulness.

But I trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
because the LORD has dealt bountifully with me.

How much longer will our suffering last? How much longer will we wonder when God will do something, or if God will do something? We don't know. But don't stop asking. Don't stop questioning. Don't even stop complaining to God! Stay engaged with God. Continue to expect God to do something. Watch with the eyes of faith so that you are ready to see when God does act. Foster faith. Hold onto hope. Make sure you're mindful of God's past faithfulness.

God our comforter, you are a refuge and a strength for us,
a helper close at hand in times of distress.
Enable us so to hear the words of faith that our fear is dispelled,
our loneliness eased, our anxiety calmed, and our hope reawakened.
May your Holy Spirit lift us above our sorrow
to the peace and light of your constant love;
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

God's peace from your fellow questioner,

Pastor Jim