O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. (NLT)
It so often seems God takes a different view of things to us. This Psalm laments the apparent lack of response on the part of God to the Psalmist’s cry for help. Such a lament is familiar to many of us.
How long before that wayward child comes to their senses? How long before this pain in my body is alleviated? How long before justice is done to me or to others? How long before the warmongers are put in their place and peacemakers rule the earth?
And there is no easy answer to the lament. Remember the Psalmist is complaining as a devout believer, not a cynical atheist. He knows God exists; he believes he is good and wise. It is just that God at that time seems absent. His great and undoubted qualities are not in evidence. He is there, but he is not there for me.
While we can’t explain God’s apparent absence or even delay, we can take some heart from the Psalms themselves. While lament is the major category of Psalm, there is also much praise and thanksgiving. God does “come good”, things can turn out well. Lament is real, but is not the only reality.
We can only echo the Psalmist and ask “how long?” We may or may not get a clear or immediate answer. This tests our trust in God and also reminds us that we don’t have the big picture that he has.
In the end, trust in God is trusting that he knows what he is doing even when we don’t.