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Lamenting life’s pain; trusting God’s goodness

February 8, 2022

Daily Scripture

Psalm 13:1-6; Lamentations 3:18-26; Lamentations 3:40-41

Psalm 13:1-6

1 How long will you forget me, LORD? Forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long will I be left to my own wits,
agony filling my heart? Daily?
How long will my enemy keep defeating me?
3 Look at me!
Answer me, LORD my God!
Restore sight to my eyes!
Otherwise, I’ll sleep the sleep of death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I won!”
My foes will rejoice over my downfall.
5 But I have trusted in your faithful love.
My heart will rejoice in your salvation.
6 Yes, I will sing to the LORD
because he has been good to me.

Lamentations 3:18-26

18 I thought: My future is gone, as well as my hope from the LORD.
19 The memory of my suffering and homelessness is bitterness and poison.
20 I can’t help but remember and am depressed.
21 I call all this to mind—therefore, I will wait.
22 Certainly the faithful love of the LORD hasn’t ended; certainly God’s compassion isn’t through!
23 They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness.
24 I think: The LORD is my portion! Therefore, I’ll wait for him.
25 The LORD is good to those who hope in him, to the person who seeks him.
26 It’s good to wait in silence for the LORD’s deliverance.

Lamentations 3:40-41

40 We must search and examine our ways; we must return to the LORD.
41 We should lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

It was (and is) possible to trust God even when hurting. Psalms 13 was one of about 50 “laments,” poetic expressions of sadness, pain and disappointment. At the end, it expressed continued faith: “I have trusted in your faithful love.” Lamentations was heart-broken Hebrew poetry about the ruin of Jerusalem when Babylon’s army overran the city in 586 B.C.E. Without denying the pain of rubble, ashes and dead bodies, it claimed God’s faithfulness, and the spiritual need for self-examination.

  • When have you felt the pain and frustration reflected in the psalmist’s opening question: “How long will you forget me, Lord? Forever?” The Hebrew phrase about God “hiding his face” meant it felt as if God had withdrawn divine favor. Are there ways in which you are waiting for God today? What choices can help you sustain patience and trust in God’s unfailing love as you wait?
  • Lamentations 3:26 said, “It’s good to wait in silence for the LORD’s deliverance.” Prayer isn’t just talking—it can also include patient, listening silence. It led the Hebrew poet to the call in verse 40: “We must search and examine our ways; we must return to the LORD.” How can searching and examining your ways ready your heart to recognize God’s presence and leading?

Lord God, whether I’ve been brave enough to say it aloud or not, you know at times my heart asks, “How long?” I thank you that your faithful love is always with me. I never have to wait for that. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of  Kari Burgess

Kari Burgess

Kari joined staff in 2012 after several years in the corporate world and served 9 years on the ShareChurch Ministry Team before moving into her current role as a Creative Project Manager on the Resurrection Experience Team.

She married her college sweetheart, Matt, in 1996 and together they love spending time with their two daughters and supporting them in their music, theater, social and academic adventures. Kari enjoys running with her neighborhood “crew” and hiking.

One of our Scripture readings today is Psalm 13, one of the laments attributed to King David. He begins with a complaint: “How long will you forget me, Lord? Forever?” Throughout the psalms we find similar laments or complaints: “Oh Lord, how many are my foes?” (Psalm 3:2) or “O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish” (Psalm 6:2) or “Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress” (Psalm 102:2).

The writer doesn’t hold back expressing his true feelings, does he? He really lets God have it. Sometimes when reading these lament psalms (especially when doing so back-to-back as I did to prepare this blog), I can’t help but think, maybe he should give God a break. But that’s missing the point entirely. These psalms show us that we can fully express our pain, disappointment, fear and concerns to God. It’s OK to tell God what we are really thinking and feeling and there is no need to hold back. He can take it.

In authentically naming our pain, disappointment, fear or concern, we can begin to release it, or lay it at his feet, as we sometimes hear it expressed. By naming it, we can start to process and problem solve with God through our prayer time.

I was thinking back to math and science in school and learning the steps to solving problems. A quick Google search gave a few variations, but they generally all include:

Step 1: Identify and define the problem Step 2: Gather information and generate possible solutions Step 3: Evaluate and select solution Step 4: Implement the solution Step 5: Evaluate results

In every variation I saw, identifying the problem is Step 1. Being willing to name or identify a problem to ourselves can be hard. Being vulnerable enough to admit a problem to God or express hurt, anger or disappointment to God can feel risky, at least to me. But through the lament psalms, we learn it is acceptable. We are encouraged to express our emotions fully to God and bring him our problems.

And when we do, we are reminded of the power, authority and love of the God who is listening. It doesn’t take King David but a few lines to turn towards hope. In verse 5 he says, “But I have trusted in your faithful love. My heart will rejoice in your salvation.” Our God is faithful, steadfast and trustworthy. We can trust God to love us, protect us and be our shelter in times of trouble. In sharing honestly with him, we can trust him to help us through our trials and pain. He can lead us through our grief, or enlighten us with a resolution, or guide us in making a difficult decision. Laying out our problems to God is Step 1. We can then lean on him and trust him to lead and guide us through Steps 2 through 5.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.