How long, Lord, how long?
April 7, 2020
Somewhere toward the end of my college experience I went thru what many of us do at some time in our spiritual life. Somewhere in recent years I learned this experience is often called a deconstruction. I reached a point where all the bible knowledge I had in my head was not giving me the spiritual life I thought it should.
This spilled out into all sorts of areas in my life.
I broke up with my girlfriend – with whom I had just begun talk of marriage. In an amazing display of my own narcissism I left her crying in the middle of campus – I think I said I never wanted to see her again.
I stopped practicing. I was a music major and practice time is a music major’s full-time job.
I stopped socializing.
I stopped eating.
My downward spiral culminated in a 3-day marathon in my bed, where I contemplated taking my own life.
It was at this point that I finally became desperate. This is important in the story, because up until then, I was SO sure I could carry myself out of the mess. I was totally confident that no matter how bad things around me were getting that I, myself, would conjure up a solution. In fact, for weeks I basically did whatever I wanted, because I had “finally freed myself” from the confines of a restrictive religion.
I realize now that, in addition to my spiritual low, I had arrived at what I would later learn as depression. For those of you who have experienced this, I literally feel where you’re coming from. Those were really dark days, where everything seemed so hopeless. I know how you wrestle with your thoughts – I had decent grades and, more than that, above average skill as a musician. I was nearly graduated, had several employment prospects. I basically gave up, because the truth was, none of it really mattered to me. I wanted to feel like I belonged somewhere. I wanted to feel like all those bible stories I knew actually had real life impact. I wanted to know that God didn’t just die on a cross for my sins, but that he rose again to be in a relationship with me today. I knew this all was true, I just wasn’t sure I believed any of it applied to me anymore.
So I did what also many of us have done, I made a deal with God. “I’m going to open my bible and read something at random, and if you’re there God – I need this to make sense, or this is all over.” There is a verse that talks about the danger of testing God. That’s another post, for another day.
The passage I landed on was Psalm 6. And. It. Blew. My. Mind. Like David was in my head.
1Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
3 My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, Lord, how long?
4 Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.
5 Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
Who praises you from the grave?
6 I am worn out from my groaning.All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
8 Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
9 The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.
I don’t really remember exactly what happened next. But, maybe for the first time in my life, I thought – maybe God at least understands what’s going on inside of me. I truly didn’t want him to be mad at me for giving up on his blessings in my life.
I was so tired. I had cried until I couldn’t any more. My entire being cried out “How long, Lord, how long?”
These days a lot of us are asking that same question. How long will our current suffering last? David, and the people of Israel asked this question a lot! We have the advantage of being able to see their story from this side of history. We know that messiah did indeed come (though not how they thought). We know that so many of God’s promises were made good in the coming of his son Jesus. It is in the hope that the God of resurrection walks alongside us, even when we cannot yet see the light at the end of the tunnel that we get up and do it again today.
I also am aware that for many of us, it takes more than a conscious decision to do better. I know that I needed something outside of myself to move me from that place of desolation. I only wish I would have surrendered myself sooner! It is my reminder to this day, that I should not hold my suffering to myself. I should seek God and his people to daily remind me of who I am in Christ. That no matter my circumstances, He holds me in the palm of His hand.
So today would you spend some time in prayer for yourself and those around you who may be asking really hard questions, or who are working through depression?
You could also ask God if he has a person in mind either for you to be mentored by, or to mentor yourself? I found myself alone with God in my moment of crisis but I wonder if the crisis could have been mediated by a person who I trusted?
I still ask, “how long, Lord”? Now I try to do it in the knowledge that He knows, and whether or not He chooses to reveal that to me, I can trust that he will bring me thru.
peace, and patience