Monday, September 25, 2006

how sweet, the song of suffering

"How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts,
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, O God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say, "I have overcome [her],"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.
(Psalm 13)

We often speak of the Bible as an instruction manual for life, which it is in many ways. God offers us all kinds of wisdom on how to navigate the world we are walking through. He also offers us promises, like the one I was reading in Hebrews today about how Jesus' sacrifice not only cleanses our sins outwardly, but cleanses our consciences as well. And we all know that the guilty conscience is the worst part of sin struggles anyway. Thank God for telling us he'll give us peace, for saying he'll help us overcome. Thank God for all those incredible promises.

But we are not always ready for instructions, and promises sometimes feel almost trite when life is pressing in around us and it is all we can do to breathe. It is in those times when I am thankful for the part in the Word where he is gracious enough to give us words for the times when we can't muster them on our own. Not only does he promise a Holy Spirit that interecedes for with groans that words cannot express when we just don't know how to pray (Romans 8:26). Sometimes he just gives us the prayers themselves.

God knew that sometimes we would feel praise that our own words can't quite capture, and he gave us songs of praise. He also knew that life would knock the wind out of us once in a while, rendering us speechless when we most need to ask for help. And so he gave us songs of suffering as well. Songs that say "Who will rise up for me? My foot is slipping." In a time when Psalm 13 says all that I find myself unable to put into words, I consider that gift- the song of suffering- to be one of the most gracious gifts of all.

1 comment:

Jason Rhue said...