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A Reflection for March 2016 by Richard Parrish


“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?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have 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”  

– Psalm 13 (ESV).[1]



Have you ever been tempted to motivate God?  I’ll admit, on more than one occasion I’ve been quite impatient with God – even exasperated with the Holy One, due to His apparent lack of attention to my need.


Because my prayer is not answered within the time frame I consider acceptable or in the way I desire, I’m prone to ask: “God, where are you?”  Let me be clear: I’m not God. I know that! Despite that reality, I’m tempted to see if I cannot induce God to action.


When my best efforts are insufficient, my desires are unmet, and when I am incapable of seeing anything good coming out of severe, harsh, and unjust treatment; I’m prone to frustration. When suffering and sickness penetrate the lives of my loved ones, and I recognize how helpless I am to bring healing to their bodies, their minds, or their souls… my response is: How long, O Lord?”


Somehow, I take comfort in the Psalmist’s rhetorical question in Psalm 13: “How long…?”  Those two words convey a sad heart filled with a deep longing for rescue. And yes, one may even hear a hint of annoyance because of God’s delay. Did God hear me? Why has He not answered? How much longer must I wait!


David’s lament also reveals how wearisome it is to spend day-after-day enduring distressing situations when all you can see is that your enemy is winning, and that you’re (supposedly) losing. If you listen carefully, you may even sense David’s feeling of being forsaken by God.


Those of us acquainted with the harsh realities of difficult circumstances, for which relief is nowhere in sight, are most apt to connect with the struggle and sorrow of David’s heart cry. I believe that is why those enduring struggles have a difficult time with religious clichés – that despite the well-meaning motives of sincere individuals – only serve to amplify the question: “How long?”


In addition to coping with the feeling that God is ignoring me, now I have to muster the courage to smile and nod my head in agreement with statements that only intensify my irritation. “Just trust God.” “Have faith.” “Don’t be discouraged, etc.”  Those “well-meaning” platitudes often create an increase in volume that screams: “Where are you, God?”


The Psalmist David offers us an important (and challenging) model worthy of our consideration when we encounter difficult circumstances beyond our understanding.  


David remains persistent in his requests to God!


Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.


When we encounter hardships that challenge our understanding; when our cries to God seem to be ignored; when our patience is tried, and when well-meaning individuals throw clichés at us because they simply don’t know what to say: David’s example encourages us to present our requests to God consistently!


David does not quit talking to God. He continues to ask God to give him wisdom: “…light up my eyes.”  Lord, help me see as you see. Although my current situation defies my understanding and utterly fails to make any sense, grant me your insight. Help me see what I cannot see!


David also refuses to ignore God’s unfailing love. He remains faithful in recalling and confessing the steadfast love of God.


"But I have 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.”


In his current situation, David does not sense the reality of God’s love. He wonders where God is, and why God does not respond. He may even sense that God has forsaken him. However, David refuses to abandon his trust in the unfailing love of God! And, remembering and re-telling himself of God’s faithfulness, gives him the courage to sing!


Several months ago, my youngest daughter was diagnosed with cancer. At the time of this writing, she has just finished her eighth round of chemo (four more to go). Then it will be a weekly treatment of radiation, followed by another year of treatments every three weeks.


A little over three months from that initial diagnosis, my oldest daughter was also given the wrenching news that she too, has cancer.


Words are simply insufficient to provide understanding. I know I’m not the only father who has experienced this. I know they are not the only individuals who are fighting cancer. There are tens of thousands of individuals, who courageously have faced – and are facing – this enemy! I applaud their bravery.


Words are inadequate to express how much I care. Even my best attempts are deficient, and may even risk sounding like clichés. Despite how careful I am to select the right words, they just lack the ability to answer the question: How long?


I desire my daughters (and others who face their enemies, whether cancer, divorce, bankruptcy, unemployment, etc.) NOT lose hope in God.


Perhaps statements like: “I can’t imagine what you must be going through,” or, “I’m so sorry,” will convey my love and compassion. Possibly, an honest expression of: “I don’t know what to say,” offered with a caring hug or warm pat on a shoulder will reinforce my love and support.


Who do you know who is facing a struggle that defies understanding? Will you allow your words to be graced with compassion?


Perhaps you are in the midst of a battle. Maybe it’s a financial challenge, a health issue or a relationship struggle that all you can ask of God is: “How long?”


May God grant you courage to continue to present your requests to God in prayer, whether you feel like it or not. May you purposefully recall His steadfast love, rejoice in the hope of His salvation, and re-discover your voice to sing again, the praises of God!

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ps 13:1–14:title.



●     When confronted with someone who is going through a severe challenge,
       how do my words come across?

●     Although I desire them to trust God and not lose faith, am I willing to enter their suffering with
       love and compassion – avoiding quick, well-intended responses that may be difficult
       for them to hear at the moment?

●     What is my prayer that I long for God to answer? Am I willing to continue to ask God
       to help me see what I do not see?

●     What’s one or two occasions that I can remember when God answered my prayer?
       Will I celebrate the faithfulness of God and take time to sing His praises?