How long, O Lord, will you forget me for ever? (verse 1)
It strikes me that if you have faith, why would you have a good moan at God? Yet, this is precisely what the writer of this psalm is doing here. And they are not the only one: Elijah, the prophet falls into despair (see 1 Kings chapter 19 where he wants to give up); and Jesus’ own disciples don’t seem to “get it” all the time (e.g. Matthew chapter 18 where the disciples think Jesus is a ghost!).
The fact is, life for any believer is not a bed of roses – or if it is, there are some thorns to deal with. So, when things are not going according to plan, when things go wrong or someone or something upsets us, what are we to do? The answer, I believe, is to be honest with God. If it feels like God has forgotten you or is ignoring you, then say so. If it looks like the danger you face is going to defeat you: tell God about it. Then, when it is all over, do what the psalmist did in this psalm: look back over your experience. I have often found that it is often only after an event or a period of time that I can see how or where God was present and/or at work in a situation: at the time it may not have felt as if he had been there. I don’t know what it felt like for Jesus to spend that time in the desert being tested and tempted by Satan. I doubt that it felt at all comfortable but rather challenging and even painful at the time. Looking back we can see that as he resisted the devil in the desert, Jesus had already begun to defeat him.
As for us, I would suggest that, when God seems slow to help, this Psalm offers us a message along these lines: “Hang in there. One day you will be able to look back on all this and make sense of it all.”
A prayer from “Common Worship”
Heavenly Father, your Son battled with the powers of darkness, and grew closer to you in the desert. Help us to use these days to grow in wisdom and prayer that we may witness to your saving love in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Additional Collect, Lent 1)