How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever?
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.
This has been a LONG couple of years. 2019 seemed just fine. Things were ok, at least compared to how they are now. Then 2020 came in with all of the hope of a new year. But, things soon fell apart. We began to hear about a new virus that was making people in other countries very, very, ill. Then we heard that this virus had become a pandemic – a serious disease that has spread around the world. Soon, people in our country, sometimes people we knew were getting sick and many were dying. Hospitals were beyond capacity. We were encouraged to stay at home and not go to work. To order things like groceries on line and have them delivered or do something called “curbside pick-up” - a term which became all to familiar – to help is avoid contact with others. Many of us did not see friends and relatives for over a year. Then a miracle seemed to happen, vaccines were approved, after a very long year we begin to see things begin to get back to – if not the way to used to be – some semblance of normal. Then we began to hear about variants of the virus and now, even those of us who are vaccinated are being told to be careful. How long O Lord…how long…? How long until we feel safe again. How long until we can see and hug loved ones without fear of infection? How long until things are the way they used to be?
Now, the pandemic we have all been living through is bad. But pile on top of that fires out west for the last two summers – sometimes so bad that the smoke from them is seen in our skies hear on the east and causes our air quality to deteriorate. Then there is the drought here that began last summer and looked dire until it began to rain – and continue raining to the point where flooding and rad damage is happening. Yet, in other places the drought continues, threatening land, homes and food supplies. We also hear about earthquakes that have occurred on both coasts, the latest one in Haiti claiming hundreds of lives and putting an impoverished country at risk for disease, homelessness and starvation. The Middle East continues to be a trouble spot, threatening not only the lives of those who live there, especially women, but the security of the world as terrorist groups reconstitute and threaten all those who oppose them. How long O Lord …. How long? How long until people no longer feel threatened by forced of nature or by those who would impose their way of being on others?
During times like these, we as Christians have a way to cope. We can open. Our Bibles and turn to the psalms. Here we will find words to use in prayer when our words fail us. For me, the words of psalm 13 have come to mind often. Here the psalmist captures all the longing for relief that I feel. All of the questioning – why is this happening, when will it end, where are You O God, in the midst of all of this suffering? The end of the psalm – “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.” Gives me hope. God is present in all of this. God is here with us. God’s love for us is here with us, helping us endure, helping us continue to move forward. It brings to mind the words of Julian of Norwich “All will be well and all manner of things will be well” words which were spoken to all who would listen (and written down). (These words were spoken during another pandemic – Bubonic Plague was sweeping Europe when Julian spoke those words.)
So, as we continue to move through this year, with all its uncertainty and times of sorrow, my hope is that you will take solace in the words of Julian of Norwich and that you will turn to the psalms for comfort and guidance. Know that God is indeed with us though these troubling times and that all will be well and all manner of things shall be well. Come and join us at 10 AM on Sunday morning.
Rev. Dr. Rhonda MacLeod