Sunday, November 28, 2010

A message from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

How Long?
November 28, 2010

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?— Psalm 13:1–2

Read aloud these first five lines from Psalm 13. Can you hear the despair in the psalm writer's voice? Can you feel his sense of abandonment, his angst, his burden of sorrow? Four times in these first two verses, King David cries out, "How long… how long… how long… how long?"

If we are honest, haven't there been times in our lives when we have felt like that? How long before a job opportunity comes along? How long will I be barren, or single, or sick? How long before You make my path ahead known to me? How long, God, before you answer my prayer? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts of worthlessness, of depression, of loneliness? How long?

If we are honest, we know this feeling all too well. Like David, we often feel that same impatience with God. Why hasn't He acted yet? Has He even heard my prayer? What is taking so long? When is He going to act? David often claimed that God was slow to act on his behalf, but even in his lowest moments, David affirmed that he was going to trust God — no matter what.

Indeed, we see David's wonderful affirmation at the very end of this short lament: "But I will trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the LORD because he has been so good to me." How could David arrive at that point so seamlessly, so quickly?

I think part of the answer lies in David's steadfast faith in God. Even at his lowest point, David's faith never wavered. And that came from a lifetime of walking with God, of trusting Him, of taking every thought, care, anxiety, and thanksgiving to Him. David was never very far from the One who could protect and guide him.

I also believe that David found strength as he expressed his feelings to God. In taking his doubts and his questions directly to God, David didn't focus inward and allow self-pity or negativity to spiral out of control. Rather he talked to God about what he was feeling, and as he did, God helped David gain a new perspective, and ultimately, that gave David peace.

When we are prone to despair, to crying out "how long," remember David. Talk to God and see how long it will be before you are singing praises to God because of His goodness to you.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

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