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  • Keith Fink

Crying Out: How Long?

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have 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)

Sometimes our soul is so troubled we struggle to find words to pray. This is why people have often found the Psalms to be a source of help. They provide the words and sentiment we lack to cry out to our God. In the coming weeks, my intent is to have us take a look at some psalms in which David cries out to God. My hope is that these words might spur us on to cry out in prayer concerning our own lives.

In Psalm 13, four times David asks God “how long?” This is a question asked in weariness. Perhaps you’ve voiced something like this as we live in a COVID-19 reality with a vaccine nowhere near in sight. Yet notice that while David can wonder out of his weariness if God has forgotten him, in verse 3 he nevertheless cries out to God. This can only be done because David has often worshiped. His response is almost like spiritual muscle-memory. Prayer is not what we must do; it is just what we do.

While David’s present experience seemed to whisper in his ear that God had forgotten him, there is something more deeply engrained in his heart. It is what is described in verse 5 as “steadfast love.” These English words translate one of the most treasured and expansive words of the Hebrew Bible: “hesed.” Just a sampling of the English words used to translate this word provide a glimpse into its wonder and depth: covenant faithfulness, loyal love, loving kindness…

If we are weary and asking how long our circumstances will last, let’s allow the ancient words David penned to help us bring our weariness to our God who has demonstrated a loyal love towards us. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).”

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