“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1)
Most of us have been there. Something has happened to bring us down. It feels like life is wired against us. It is only natural to wonder if God cares about us. If God cares, then where has God gone during this time of struggle? And often, while things are going so badly for us, someone nearby who we don’t even like is doing really well. It is like salt in our wounds.
The Psalmist is in the middle of this. We don’t know what is going on specifically but we know it must be rough. The cries to God imply that God’s reputation may be on the line. After all, if we have trusted in God and our enemies have prevailed, then maybe God’s support for us isn’t so valuable. If trusting God doesn’t bring immediate results, what are we to do.
Of course, this was the same experience that Jesus would have on the cross. Quoting from Psalm 22, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The one who was most intimately connected to God the Father would feel the despair and loneliness of rejection and torture at the hands of his enemies. When we are hurting and feeling beaten down by life, we have good company in Christ!
But remember, the resurrection reminds us all that the experience of being cut off from God does not mean that God has stopped working. Nor does it mean that our pains in the present can’t be doorways to God’s outcomes in the future. Jesus may have felt cut off from God but God was still at work, even in his death.
The Psalmists cries above lead to the following closing verse in the same Psalm: But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5-6).
In the space of a few short verses, the Psalmist takes us through the journey of emotions and offers a reminder of faith’s commitment. God is faithful and good and we cling to the promise that our God will work in and through all things. While we wait, we continue to lift up and sing the praises of the God who will love us in and through all things.