How long?

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How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?

   How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I take counsel in my soul

   and have sorrow in my heart all the day?

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Psalm 13:1-2


Psalm 13 is only six verses long. It starts with desperation, pleading, and sorrow. “God, why won’t you help me? Where have you gone?” It’s a familiar cry. Yet a few verses later, the author’s laments have turned to praise. “I trust you, I rejoice in you, and I praise you.”

Somehow, the author of this song can acknowledge his own pain but return to hope. He can be defeated, destitute, abandoned and still end with praise. His trust in the love of God saves him from despair even if it doesn’t save him from his immediate circumstances.

There is a temptation to believe that a friendship with Jesus is only as valuable as the happiness we get from it. We diminish a relationship into a transaction, and then are surprised when we feel we don’t get what we’ve ‘paid for.’ And we’re stuck, either feeling disillusion and cheated, or faking happiness we think should always be present.

Yes, Jesus came to bring joy and abundant life. But Jesus is also a man acquainted with grief, a man of sorrow. He does not give us happiness at the expense of erasing our pain. If we don’t acknowledge the hurt we’ve experienced, we can’t move into the joy he has for us.

Do Christians have a problem faking happiness? Have you felt pressure to move on from pain too quickly?

Joy is not the mere sensation of pleasure — it is a pervasive, constant, and unending sense of well-being that flows from vision, peace, righteousness, and hope.

DALLAS WILLARD


Emily Luttrull