How Long? Psalm 13

A friend brought my attention back to Psalm 13 the other day. It’s her favorite as she struggles with a reoccurring cancer. But you don’t need cancer to wonder “how long?” in your life.

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 day?
How long shall me enemy be exalted over me?

There are times when it just feels as if it has been a long time since God has been involved in our lives. Often, it’s because of something happened that separated ourselves from him. It might be a sin that hardened our hearts, or it just could be busyness with good things which replace being with him. Like a good friend, sometimes the relationship just slips away with time and distance…

And then we miss them. 

We miss him.

And it’s easy to blame the other person, or to blame God. He’s forgotten us, hidden himself from us. Almost more than him, we miss the blessings which came from the relationship. We should be safe and prosperous, and if we aren’t, it must be God’s fault.

But…we need to look for the “but.”

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.

When we turn our face towards the Lord and who he is, our attitude completely changes. It’s about the relationship we have, not what we think we are missing. I have friends who through time and distance feel far. Yet I know the feelings are still rich between us and, in a moment’s notice, their heart would be next to mine. Busyness and distance may have gotten in the way, but they are there for me and love me. 

And so it is with the Lord, just in perfection. We may not be feeling his blessing, but it’s there. We may not be feeling his presence, but he’s there. We may feel others are getting further in life than we are, but we have what really counts – the love of the Lord.

How long?

We may be wondering, How long until Covid is over? God may feel far in the midst of racial injustice and cities burning and election politics. We grow impatient. We wonder, How long until my business is back? Until my money runs out? Until I find a job? Until I meet my soulmate? Until my cancer is healed? Until there is justice?

The list goes on…with silence from God concerning the timing. Instead, he answers us with his presence if we turn away from the problems and seek him.

The question is, Can we see what we have instead of what we want? Can we trust in him and his love? Can we see the bounty all around us?

Mercy – Psalms 116

Years ago I wrote a poem about the “edge” of death, literally, in my cancer journey. Psalm 116 has been a mainstay in my perspective and echos the Psalmist feelings as he peers over the edge and as I continue to cry out to the Lord..

I love the LORD, because he has heard
My voice and pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
Therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

I have a perspective on life I did not have before the cancer journey. Why he would be sparing me and not others, I don’t understand. It is pure mercy.

And because of that mercy, I know each day, each week, each month, each year is a gift for me to give back to him.

The snares of death emcompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

 Let me say, this journey has not been a walk in the park. I suffer physical pain, especially with each broken bone and/or surgery. And the emotional side of wondering if each holiday, each visit with family and friends, is difficult. It’s even harder with each sin, wrongdoing, that injures myself or others. So I call on the Lord to free my soul so that I can live rightly in the health and freedom he has given me for today. Because…

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
Our God is merciful.
When I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

I don’t know why I am here when so many others have gone before me. I can only believe it’s because of his mercy, his vision for my life. It’s certainly not because I deserve more than others, am more talented, am more valuable. I am the “simple” who has been brought low. And my rest, my only rest, is in him.

For you have delivered my soul from death, 
My eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

The chapter goes on, which may be for another day, but I can’t help but camp on the last statement as my mantra. Each time he gives me a new day, each time he delivers me from what is to come, from pain, from fear, I claim from him the strength to…

Walk before the LORD in the land of the living.