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We can lament life’s pain while trusting God’s goodness

April 26, 2023

Daily Scripture

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.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

People often call the Psalms the “prayer book” of the Bible. About 50 of those prayers were laments like this one, in which the psalmist expressed the feeling that God had forgotten all about him. (In the vision of Revelation, the Bible’s final book, martyred saints echoed Psalm 13 and asked, “Holy and true Master, how long?”—cf. Revelation 6:10). Psalm 13, like virtually all laments, also returned to the heart stance that makes prayer possible at all: “I have trusted in your faithful love.”

  • Have you ever felt the level of 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 The Hebrew phrase about God “hiding his face” expressed a sense that God had withdrawn divine favor. Are there ways in which you are waiting (patiently or not) for God’s favor today? What choices and practices can help you sustain trust in God’s unfailing love as you wait?
  • Scholar John Goldingay’s wife Ann suffered 43 years of multiple sclerosis. “How long, how long, how long, how long? The psalm is written for someone facing a long haul. It dares to continue trusting Yahweh’s commitment and expecting to celebrate Yahweh’s deliverance…. The foes think they are going to celebrate. The psalm dares the person praying to believe that it is he or she who is going to celebrate.” * Can you dare to believe that, in the end, you will celebrate with God?

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

GPS Insights

Picture of Gwyn Thomas

Gwyn Thomas

Gwyn Thomas joined the Resurrection staff in 2021 and serves in donor relations. She’s a Boston native and moved to Kansas City in 2020 when her husband Blake accepted a call at Resurrection West to lead their student ministries! Her favorite pasttimes include pottery, hiking, frisbee, trying new restaurants, and spending time with Blake and their large orange cat, Tuna.

I have come to know the deepness of lament in the last year of my life. A little over a year ago, my husband and I lost our first baby to miscarriage. It was unlike any loss I had ever encountered because all the other losses in my life had been a shared loss with family or friends. I could grieve their memory with others and reminisce on their physical presence. This loss was inside of me, physically and metaphorically. I felt like I lost some of myself as well. While it was a shared loss with my husband, there was something so personal about it. We had not shared the news yet, so in the same sentence I had to share with my support system that I was pregnant and am not anymore. [For those reading this who have experienced infertility, miscarriage, infant-loss, or pregnancy after loss–I have paused to pray for your heartache and healing which is a lifelong journey].

The first time I heard about miscarriage and infertility was in college when my Pastor shared her experience with miscarriage and infant loss and how she sought after God through her grief and anger and questions. So, when I found myself in a similar experience almost 10 years later, I held tight to the memory of her steadfast faith. It helped me seek God despite feeling lost in myself. 

Today’s Psalm could have been taken from my personal journal entries from a year ago. I was in a place where I was crying out for God to answer me. I can’t explain why, but I tended to end my long rants to God with gratitude. I was thankful. I’d never been more in love and connected to my husband. I’d never known the beauty of creation to be as fragile or as beautiful. I could see how God’s timing had set a foundation of a support system to carry me through days I couldn’t bear the weight of the pain. I could see God. I was crying out for God, but I could still see Him.  

The Psalm ends with the verse, “Yes, I will sing to the LORD, because he has been good to me.” Have you ever been in grief and found yourself smiling or laughing? It’s the strangest feeling, and at moments made me feel guilty. Like I wasn’t grieving “right.” I love this Psalm because it reminds us that both can exist. You can be in deep sadness and experience great joy. It’s okay to find levity where you can. See God in those moments. We are invited to do the hard work of balancing the hard days and the good moments. It’s easier when you invite God to join you. 

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* John Goldingay, Psalms for Everyone, Part 1: Psalms 1–72. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013, p. 43.