Scripture Focus: Psalm 13
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
Reflection: How Long?
By John Tillman
Navigation is more than directions. It accounts for distance, speed, hazards on the journey, and the need to stop for fuel, food, or rest. This was true for Paul’s gospel-spreading voyages. It is also true for shorter trips such as commuting to work or driving across town for a meeting.
The navigation software on my phone continuously calculates my estimated time of arrival. If a wreck occurs ahead of me, it adds time for the slowdown. When I cannot resist “beating” the ETA by driving faster than expected, it adjusts accordingly. But without a connection, the software cannot adjust. I’m off the map.
Many psalms celebrate faith’s journey when it goes smoothly and God seems so close. Psalms of lament come from moments when faith’s journey slides off the map. Our ETA becomes a question mark. The turn-by-turn directions fail. Milestones disappear. Hazards loom larger. We no longer feel connected to God. We do not know how long the journey is or if we will ever arrive. Ancient mapmakers wrote warnings on the edges and unmarked areas of maps. “Here there be monsters.”
“How long?” is repeated often in scripture. It recognizes that something needs to be corrected—that there are monsters to confront.
These monsters are real. How long will we suffer wrongs that are not righted? How long will the wicked prosper off the backs of the poor? How long will justice be delayed and denied? How long will victims be less important than leaders and institutions? How long will we have to blow a whistle before help arrives?
The psalmist’s thoughts and heart race out of control, filled with sorrow. We may wrestle with the same dark feelings and thoughts. “How long?”
Like the psalmist, we can question openly and honestly. We need not hide our feelings from God. Also, like the psalmist, we can reorient by remembering God and his goodness.
Reorient means turning our map back to the correct position to represent the world properly. “How long?” recognizes a delay, but from another perspective, “How long?” recognizes a destination. There is an end. Wrongs will be righted. Tears will be dried. Monsters will be crushed.
Don’t be ashamed to cry out, asking, “How long?” It is a statement of both struggle and victory. It is a prayer that will be answered. “How long, O Lord?”
Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Look upon your covenant; the dark places of the earth are haunts of violence. — Psalm 74.19
Read more about Convicted by Job’s Righteousness
We confess, Lord, we are not like Job. (Job 31.16-23)
We have seen those perishing due to lack of bread, lack of clothing, lack of freedom, lack of shelter, and said, “It is their own fault.”
Read The Bible With Us
Our Bible reading plan is designed to be more like a walk in a garden than a test of endurance. Walk with us at a sustainable, two-year pace.