Proper 8(A): It’s All Held By God
By: Anne Moman Brock
I’m glad I’m not the only one asking the question “How long, LORD?” It’s a daily question for me, one that remains unanswered.
How long, LORD, until I can hug my family and friends again?
How long, LORD, until income is secure for all people?
How long, LORD, until we can trust those making decisions on our behalf?
How long, LORD, until health care is available to all?
How long, LORD?
David laments as I lament:
How long, LORD? Will you forget me
How long will you hide your face
How long must I wrestle with my
and day after day have sorrow in
How long will my enemy triumph
I don’t need to write pages and pages in my own journal, I can just let David do the writing for me! Is it comforting to know that humanity has faced this kind of discomfort from the beginning of time or is it depressing to know this is how it will always be? Yes.
I think we’ve all had a moment of lament like this (or several) over the last few months: God, where are you? Have you forgotten us? Have you given up on humanity? We need you — where are you??
And if that weren’t enough, we’re home day after day wrestling with our never-ending thoughts: When is it safe to go to the grocery? Why do we have to wear masks? Yes, I’ll wear a mask, but I won’t like it. How many more meals must I cook myself? I miss my friends.
And still more is piled on as I scroll through social media and see hatred continue to spread: Why are they behaving like this? When will truth be a given? Who is my enemy right now? I’m so confused. Who is the right person to listen to?
There’s a reason this psalm, along with all the other laments, are included in the Bible. They are valid. They are real. They are us. I have permission to voice all of my feelings, not just the ones that make others feel good. God gives us space to cry and be angry and moan and groan. Our feelings are valid. We can bring our whole selves before God without worry of rejection.
I appreciate that David laments and that he doesn’t end there. He allows himself the space for despair and desolation, but he keeps going through it to a place of consolation. He doesn’t let the lament have the last word. However, just before he turns to praise, he states his complaints and his worries. He acknowledges his fear and anxiety around failure. He puts it all out there, and then…
David ends with praise. Will I end my litany of fears, anxieties, and lament with praise too?
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
Every night as I lay my head on the pillow, I name at least three things from the day for which I give thanks. This daily practice has saved me for over three years now. There are some nights when I have to “stretch” to find something I’m grateful for (i.e. this pillow), but for the most part I can name way more than three. I’m glad to know David had a practice of gratitude as well.
Now, we don’t know how long it took David to write this psalm. We don’t know how long it was ruminating in his mind before he spoke it out loud. He may have been in that space of despair for quite some time before he moved into praise. Reading it in the Bible makes it look like everything happened at once… but we don’t know.
I know for myself that it might take days, weeks, months, even years, before I can find the heart space to praise God in the midst of a hard time. Praise doesn’t naturally come out of my mouth when I’m hurt and scared and uncertain. I have to be intentional about it, which is why I make myself practice gratitude every night, whether I feel like it or not.
If you’re not in the place of praise today, that’s okay. I’m not sure David was right away either. Whether you’re asking How long, LORD or singing God’s praise, it’s all held by God.
After thirteen years of youth ministry in the United Methodist Church, Anne Moman Brock is now in another form of ministry with Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, part of the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. She is a graduate of Christian Theological Seminary. Anne lives with her husband and two dogs — an 11-year-old husky and a 1-year-old chocolate lab — in Indianapolis, Indiana. She writes about her experience with infertility at www.annebrock.com and on Instagram @livinginthemidst.