EDITORIAL: In good times and bad

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

But I trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 13

The writer of Psalm 13 undoubtedly knew about enemies and situations that were a threat to life as well as to the spirit of a person, and even in hardship found faith to triumph over troubles.
All the terrible situations in our lives today were present millenniums ago when the poet turned personal pain into hope and joy.
War, hunger, homelessness, disease, poverty and loss of livelihood affected people then as now.
Monthly reports didn’t say that unemployment had reached new highs or that crops were so bad that exhausted grain stores would lead to widespread hunger and malnutrition, but those situations became plain enough.
Most people go through some kind of bad time, and after wrestling with it feel a little wiser and better-equipped to deal with the next round of problems and adversities.
Many people relate to hard times in the collapse of relationships: marriages, friendships, and parental bonds.
Maybe a dream job turns into a nightmare.
Maybe a personal hell has to be endured before an issue gains clarity and resolution.
The noted and prolific Old Testament scholar, Walter Brueggemann, has called Psalm 13 a statement of “reorientation.”
The poet has been let down and becomes distant from God, lost in a sense.
Most of the short poem vents those feelings, but in the closing phrases the poet expresses and senses a renewed understanding of God’s presence. The renewal is even better than was faith in the beginning because, in the difficult times of life the psalmist, to his surprise, knows that God is present.
All of us need reminders – some not so gentle – that grown-up faith isn’t about expecting life to be easy or expecting God to solve all the problems while making us happy.
The path the poet chose is this: Acknowledge the difficult parts of life, cry to God in those times, and find your way back into relationship with God after feeling what it’s like in separation.
In other words, as Brueggemann phrases it, seek a “reorientation” and renewal, coming to know that God deals bountifully with us.
God helps us in the good times of life and in the bad. God helps us honestly cry out in sadness, anger, fear and pain when times are tough. God helps remember in joy when the sun rises on a new day and life feels good once again.

NEMS Daily Journal

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