Midweek Bible ClassWednesday, July 29th • 7–8 pm (CDT)Every WednesdayJoin Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 878 5092 1150 Password: 911426
How Long, O Lord?
How long, O Lord? (Psalm 13:1)
This difficult season drags on and on. How is it affecting you? Are you growing frustrated? Weary? Sad? Depressed? We can easily look around and back at history and notice that many have had it worse—but that doesn’t exactly lift our spirits. Things seem bleak right now. We miss normal. We miss smiles and handshakes and hugs. We miss singing at church, and that quiet, distinct, lovely sound of communion trays passing through the congregation. We miss our friends. We miss family. Will such joys ever return? How long will this go on?
Psalm 13 is a prayer for such times. It is one of many psalms categorized as a lament, and it is meant to help us through bleak and lonely times. Learning to pray this way is important; otherwise we tend to grumble. You haven’t grumbled recently, have you? ;)
It is often pointed out that gratitude is the antidote for grumbling, and I wouldn’t argue. Scripture teaches us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18); and the practice of it certainly helps put everything in perspective. But that’s not to say that we shouldn’t also talk to God about the hard and unpleasant things. If you look to the Bible to learn how to pray, you find an abundance of lament: crying out to God in pain and struggle and loss. This, I believe, is as much an antidote to grumbling as gratitude is. It is often through the honest expression of sadness and frustration in prayer to God that leads our heart to truly trust him.
In Psalm 13, lament leads to trust. The feelings are voiced first—feelings of being forgotten, abandoned, humiliated, and sad (vss. 1-2). Then comes a very personal cry for help, addressing the Lord as my God and seeking to be considered, answered, and rescued (vss. 3-4). Then comes trust in the steadfast love of God and the confidence that there will again be cause for singing and rejoicing (vss. 5-6). Trust grows through the stages of prayer; so don’t skip lament. Talking through your most restless feelings with God will lead you to a place of peace in his presence.
Why Go To Church?
Why go to church? It’s an important question for the time we’re in. Some of us, if we’re honest, have really enjoyed Sunday services at home. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing to admit. Sundays have been slower, more restful. There is no hurry to get ready, no concern for how you look, no hassle with hair or wind or traffic—just the anticipation of a few moments that lift our spirits and fill our hearts.
There is no question that God can use such a season to refresh and heal our sometimes hurried and restless approach to Sundays. It seems that he has been doing that in my own heart. But still, it needs only to be a season. God designed the church to be, well, exactly what the word means: an assembly, a gathering. Church is not just a spiritually uplifting and nourishing experience; it is the coming together of real people with all our wounds, struggles, heartaches, differences, quirky personalities, and wondrously varied gifts—all tied together in Christ. It’s harder and messier than virtual church, but greater.
Ephesians 4:1-6 is a hinge-point in a letter that says much about church. Paul urges Christians to walk in a manner worthy of the calling, which clearly, he sees as being lived in the context of fellowship with the people of God. Such a life-among-others is to be characterized by humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing with one another in love. We are taught to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (vs. 3). This teaching is a call to diligently guard against the countless things that so often divide people: politics, race, differing opinions, unforgiveness, self-centeredness, etc. Our Christian bond runs deeper. It’s also a call to be eager about something our Father is eager for: all his children being together as one.
Online gatherings are the best we can do right now, and we thank God for such a blessing. Even when church doors open, it will be wise for some to continue to stay home a while longer. But, when the time comes to “go to church” (and only when it’s responsible for you to do so), remember that while an online experience has its upside, there is something greater: the harder and messier but profoundly more beautiful unity in which we see God “over all and through all and in all” (vs. 6).