If you want to peer into a man’s soul, read Psalms. They are unique in Scripture, because, instead of God talking to a man, they record man talking to God.
A smorgasbord of thoughts and emotions, there are lament and thanksgiving and praise and salvation history and affirming celebration and wisdom and trust psalms. Interestingly, the largest group is lament. Again and again the psalmists honestly and fervently express discouragement, disappointment, discontent and distress to the Lord.
Perhaps the most familiar are these heartrending questions from David, which eventually Jesus echoed from the cross . . .
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
from the words of my groaning?”
(Psalm 22:1, ESV).
Here’s an especially poignant cry, again from David . . .
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
(Psalm 13:1, ESV)
Today’s English Version’s translation packs a bit more passion . . .
“How much longer will you forget me, Lord?
How much longer will you hide your face from me?”
(Psalm 13:1, TEV).
Such psalms destroy the foolish notion to be careful not to “confess anything negative with our mouth”. And, even, I would add the idea that we may tread on thin ice if we complain or get angry with the Lord. In fact, if we can’t be honest with our Father in heaven about how we really feel, with whom can we be brutally honest? He’s not a prideful monarch whose ego will be crushed and demand satisfaction if we complain to him!
Look at more of Psalm 13. Ever felt this way?
How much longer will you forget me, Lord?
How much longer will you hide yourself from me?
How long must I endure trouble?
How long will sorrow fill my heart day and night?
How long will my enemies triumph over me?
(Psalm 13:1,2, TEV)
For some, “enemies” are violent persecutors. For others, they are prolonged illness, disability, the physical wasting-away for aging and dying, an abusive husband, an unjust employer, an addiction, a particular sin, Satan. The list is long; “enemies” come in many forms. And turning to follow Jesus in faith doesn’t magically remove them.
When “enemies triumph” and “sorrow fill[s] my heart” and “I endure trouble” with no respite, I hit bottom where I feel forgotten. “How much longer will you forget me Lord? Forever?” Can’t be much worse than feeling that my Lord has forgotten me.
But, with one exception (Psalm 88), the psalmist doesn’t stay there. Though “forgotten”, he prays yet again—the prayer of a desperate, drowning man . . .
Restore my strength; don’t let me die.
Don’t let them gloat over my downfall.
(Psalm 13:3,4, TEV)
because you will rescue me.
because you have been good to me.
(Psalm 13:5.6, TEV)
but offered him for us all! He gave us his Son –
will he not also freely give us all things?
God himself declares them not guilty!
Not Christ Jesus, who died, or rather, who was raised to life
and is at the right side of God, pleading with him for us!
Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger
or poverty or danger or death?
we are treated like sheep that are going to be slaughtered.”
through him who loved us!
neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers,
neither the present nor the future, neither the world above
nor the world below –
there is nothing in all creation
that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God
which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:31b-39, TEV)
Feeling forgotten? We will be glad! Feeling forsaken? We will sing!
* * * * *
NOTE: Break from blogging the rest of this week. Back early next week. Appreciate all you readers—all 700 subscribers! May the Lord grant us our heart’s desires, as we delight ourselves in him!