How long will You be angry with the prayer of Your people? Psalm 80:4
How Long – “Lord, I have reached the end. I am simply overwhelmed by the continuous demands of life. I want to be of service to others. I try to meet their requests, to offer myself as a helper. I try to balance those understandable expectations with the routines of life, the demands of family, the expectations of financial production. Each area on its own is not too much, but all together? There are not enough hours for me to work and work and work without exhausting myself. And that’s where I am, Lord. Exhausted. I know there is more to do. People have offered assistance, but each action requires more reaction. Each bit of assistance puts another layer of performance expectation on me. I can’t do it all. I can’t keep up. But there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
Lord, you know that I want to serve You and that I have a heart for all those who have found something of value in what I do. I believe I am called to be hands and feet. I believe that You have equipped me to think, write, teach, guide – but I am falling, stumbling, crawling, grasping. I don’t know what to do about it. I feel the heaviness of those who desire to press on and who ask me for help. But I am tired – so tired. I am running out of insights, of words. Sometimes I’m just numb. That’s when I’m most vulnerable, Lord. That’s when I just want to run away.
I rode in a hot air balloon. It was so quiet, so peaceful. That’s something I miss to the depths of my soul. My life is filled with noise. Chatter. Speech. Requests. Questions. Debate. Sometimes I feel as if there isn’t one more word to be packed into my psychic space. They are all jumbled now. I don’t know if I have the strength to pick up the words and start again. I don’t know if I can re-write for the umpteenth time. I don’t know if I can think one more thought, construct one more sentence.
And all the while, the pressure of finances. The bills that never stop. The savings that is constantly drained. More and more and more – that’s the world’s answer. Work harder. Produce more. What if I can’t do any more? Then what? What if I just can’t push one more PayPal button, can’t record one more audio file, write one more paragraph. What if I just wrote what I wanted to write and stopped worrying about how to communicate it to others? Would it be valuable then? Would anyone care about me then? What if I am only valuable as long as I meet someone’s need? That seems to be the way of things, doesn’t it? You know how much I struggle with rejection. You know how scared I am of making mistakes. Where did all that come from? Not from You. I know that You don’t measure me by what I produce or how correct I am. You are my Father. You love me even if I fail. Maybe You love me because I fail. But it’s hard to keep that in mind when I feel so many demands to be something I just might not be able to be.
When can I just sit with You and feel Your presence affirming me? When can I know the joy of Your acceptance? Lord, I’m just like Asaph. How long, how long – how long will Your silence chastise me?”
The Hebrew words ‘ad matai cover temporal and spatial distances. “Until when” asks Asaph. At what distance in the future will I once again experience the grace of the Most High God? The Psalms permit us emotional theology. Emotions generate the power of pursuit. They allow us to feel our way to God. While the Greeks feared emotions because they upset the “perfect” balance model of life, the Hebrew poets understood that emotions are the passionate core of being human. They have enormous power – to be used for God or against Him. Asaph cries out from his passionate desire for God.
“Lord, we cry out to You. Hear our pleas. Feel our pain. Rescue us.” No man can read the Psalms without tears and laughter. Go ahead. Feel!
Topical Index: how long, ad matai, distance, emotional theology, Psalm 80:4
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