1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget [us] forever?
How long will you hide your face from [us]?
2 How long must [we] bear pain in [our] soul,
and have sorrow in [our] heart all day long?
How long shall [our] enemy be exalted over [us]?
3 Consider and answer [us], O Lord [our] God!
Give light to [our] eyes, or [we] will sleep the sleep of death,
4 and [our] enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
[our] foes will rejoice because [we are] shaken.
5 But [we] trusted in your steadfast love;Psalm 13. NRSV
[our] heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 [We] will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with [us].
I have been trying to write this blog for 6 days now. The words have struggled pouring forth from within my heavy heart. My soul sits uneasy. Last week at my Psalm Bible Study I am a part of we studied the Psalms as Laments. How timely was this topic to explore the raw emotion expressed in what the author called the 23 “angry laments”? It was refreshing to be reminded that some of the authors of the Biblical text had moments when the brunt of what they were feeling and expressing was anger. Some of the laments express deep sorrow. Sometimes the sorrow is for personal illness or struggle. Sometimes it is for injustice observed or experienced. Some of the laments are penitent and seek forgiveness for sins, both individual and collective, that have been committed against God and neighbor.
Right now it feels like our country is in need of expressing all three types of laments. We are a people in need of expressing anger, sorrow, and asking forgiveness. Lord have mercy.
To be honest, I have no real answers here. But I am calling on each one of us to come before God in prayer and supplication to ask for the Holy Spirit to bring Peace and Justice. Both are needed. Throw in a little Healing as well. I believe only the Holy Spirit can help guide us out of this hot mess boiling around us.
We need Peace to descend like a dove to lower the temperature and calm the explosive waters that have come to a boil all around us. We need peace to restore our emotions to a place where we are able to hear one another again. We need peace to allow us to try and find some common ground and seek healing.
We need Justice if we are ever going to actually achieve healing and any kind of sustainable peace. Great injustice has taken place over the past couple of months to People of Color. There is no other way to state the facts. Racism is real. Racism has caused great harm. It’s a complicated problem and one that cannot be ignored any longer. The anger that has erupted has come from a place of deep hurt, brokenness, and injustice. Can we ever find a path that helps us live with the eyes of Jesus and truly treat others as we would be treated and love our neighbor no matter the color of their skin? I don’t think Jesus could be any clearer in the Gospels where he stands in a situation like we find ourselves in. So why is it so hard for us do better?
We need healing. Deep healing for systemic and episodic sin. However not only is our country embroiled in complex racial tensions and violence but we are also still in the throes of a pandemic. Last week we crested 100,000 deaths in the US to COVID-19. 100,000+persons have lost their lives to this virus. It’s hard for those of us in Watauga County to understand this level of devastation because we have not had any deaths (thankfully) and only 13 cases so far with 9 of those already recovered. But we are in a bubble compared to some places where everyone has lost a neighbor or a coworker or a family member. We need healing for the grief and loss so many have, are, and will experience. We need healing for the trauma of lives interrupted. I feel for our graduating seniors from high school and college for example that have had to adapt celebrating this important milestone. All of us have missed something special happening in our lives because of this virus. We need healing for the loneliness that some are experiencing, going on 3 months of not being touched by another person, only connecting with others by phone or Zoom. We need healing for stressed out families or depression that has crept into the voids of our lives.
The Good News here is something the Psalms remind me, even in the most emotional of laments. The God we love and worship is worthy of our best angry prayer. The God we pray to wants to hear our heart’s sorrow. The God we praise is more than able to carry our pain. While there are times I feel the words of Psalm 13 quoted at the beginning of this article asking, “How long?”. My heart also feels the words at the end of the psalm – I do trust in God’s steadfast love and I will sing of God’s saving power not only in my life but for the hurting world surrounding me right now. I do believe God will help us find a way through this muck. I believe God will help us fine Peace, Justice and Healing. I trust and believe it. I hope you can, too. Come Holy Spirit.
Grace and Peace,