How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 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? 3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, 4 and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ and my foes will rejoice when I fall. 5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. (A Psalm of David)
After almost 9 months of life being disrupted by a virus, an enemy we cannot see, we are all beginning to feel and think like the psalm’s author; as if we have been forgotten or worse forsaken by the Lord. All of this comes on top of whatever other trials or difficulties we are each facing as individuals or families and together we can feel crushed or begin to fall into despair. Four times the psalmist questions “how long?” and whatever the situation, it appears there is no answer to his appeal, he is beginning to feel that God has deliberately turned away, it is affecting his mental health, he can think of nothing else and he feels oppressed not simply by the trouble into which he’s fallen but also by the stony silence from heaven. Today we would say “He is in a dark place”
Isn’t it strangely wonderful how the writers of psalms seem at times to put into words things that we can’t express for ourselves and sometimes it takes us aback, we think to ourselves, that’s exactly how I feel! Therein though is the issue, forsaken is perhaps how we feel but it is not necessarily what we are. In verse 5 then the psalmist seems to give himself a shake and dig deeply as despite it all he clings to God and affirms his trust. Unfailing love or steadfast love as some translations put it, points us to the covenant love of God whereby he commits himself to us in love bearing for us the obligations of the covenant and no longer expecting us to meet them. Isaiah the prophet explains it in practice like this “surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet, we considered him punished by God, stricken by him and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
You know when you read that and think about it how can we then say God just doesn’t know what we have to stick. God the Son or Jesus as we know him is the one the prophet is talking about. What Jesus calls for is our trust; that we rejoice in the fact he has done this for us, and praise him before others. Perhaps it’s when David realises afresh what God has already promised him that he affirms... But I trust in your unfailing love. Faith is easy to affirm, trust in Jesus something easy to express when we are sailing along, it’s harder, much harder to live out when trouble breaks upon us. Faith is an act of will and it reaches full stature when, for the time being, we can no longer see the one in whom we trust.