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.
These are the opening verses of Psalm 13. It is a Psalm of Lament. Psalms of Lament are songs that cry out to God in times of deep distress and despair. I had hoped that we would be done with Psalms of Lament by now. Back in June when the COVID case numbers had dropped so low, it seemed like things would be pretty much back to normal as we began our fall programming. But then came July. The case numbers began to rise. And they continue to rise. So instead of the songs of joy and celebration we had hoped for, we're back to songs of deep distress and despair. Once again we are asking the question that people of faith have asked for thousands of years: “How long, O LORD?”
We do not know the answer to that question. We do not know how long until our children can receive a vaccination or how long until the case numbers drop low enough for life to get back to normal. But we do know this. God will be with us as we wait. God has also given us each other to lean on and care for as we wait. Psalms of Lament offer comfort and hope in times of deep distress and despair because not only do they help us give voice to our pain and suffering, they also remind us that God is present with us in the midst of our pain and suffering and that God's goodness will never fail us. Here are the closing verses of Psalm 13:
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.
Even though it is not yet time for songs of joy and celebration, it is a time to be hopeful and faithful. God's steadfast love supports us. God has called and gathered us into a loving and caring community of faith. God continues to reach out to us in countless ways. God continues to work through us as we strive to live out and further Jesus' vision of the Kingdom of God.