Crying Out: Why?
1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
16 The LORD is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
17 O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (Psalm 10:1,16-18)
Have you ever cried out asking: Why? I am sure you have; for we often see things in life about which we can make little sense. The Bible and the Christian faith are not oblivious to this. We don’t gather in worship to play pretend. One of the benefits of the psalms is that they encourage us to “get real” with our God. I don’t believe that God is interested in hearing pious sounding platitudes that we don’t really believe or feel. If we struggle for words, the psalms can at times provide us with language to cry out to God with the reality of our life.
Twice in this psalm the psalmist cries out with the question of: “Why?” This question reveals an inward struggle of the psalmist to put together what he knows of God and what he sees in this world. If you wonder what it is that he sees, you only need to read the psalm as a whole. There you will hear how the wicked pursue the poor and boast while doing it (vs. 2-3). When the helpless are crushed, the ones doing the crushing think that they will get away with it - that God will not see it (vs. 10-11).
There is much of life about which the psalmist can’t make sense. Yet notice how he doesn’t lose hold of that which he knows with a certainty. In vs. 16 the psalmist acknowledges that the Lord is King forever and the nations will one day perish. He also knows something of the Lord’s heart: that the Lord will hear the afflicted and do justice to the fatherless and oppressed (17-18).
We are not well served to play pretend with God - pretending that all is well when it is not. Nor are we well served to discard the certainties we have of God when we are confused by the world in which we live.