How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
[The book of psalms is our songbook of life—in celebration or grief, in confidence or confusion, in joy or anger or despair. I invite you to read and reflect on these songs of life wherever YOU are this week. Read the psalm, read my reflection below, then consider posting and sharing your own observations at the bottom of the page.Today’s devotion is adapted from a post on November 1, 2018]
I’d like to talk to all the “journalers” out there. Particularly those of you who would consider yourself a “bad journaler” or a “recovering journaler.” I want you to know…I am one of you!
If you have been faithfully reflecting and writing for the past 12 years and never missed a day, God bless you! For me, the journaling thing has been a continual process of enthusiastic beginnings, short commitments, long lapses and begin-agains. Rinse and repeat!
This week I started the whole process once again. Today was “Day 2.” Looking back over the past 21 years when I decided to follow Christ, there have been dozens of “Day 2s” in my various journals. “Day 2” is usually a less interesting entry than “Day 1,” but there is always some degree of satisfaction in writing “Day 2” at the top of the page. I sometimes imaging myself writing “Day 1723” at the top of my journal (Volume 3, of course), but I haven’t ever come close. Nevertheless, it’s amazing how many “Day 1s” are followed up by “Day 2.”
Several years ago, Matthew West wrote and released a song called “Day One.” It celebrates the promise in Lamentations 3:22-23 which says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning.” In other words, every day is “Day one of the rest of my life,” because of God’s steadfast love and mercy. That’s pretty hopeful news to all the bad journalers in the world! Still, there’s something about Day 2, 3 and 4…
The book of Psalms is our great song book, but it’s also a private journal, written by several authors, heroes of the faith, and struggling saints. Sometimes the tone is triumphant, sometimes angry, often frustrated. In Psalm 13 David the Journaler begins with four pleading questions: “How long…how long…how long…how long? Speaking from my own experience, that can’t be a Day 1 entry! There is frustration in David’s voice, but it’s a “faithful frustration.” David’s frustration isn’t with God’s love and mercy (read verses 5 & 6), but with his own struggles with sin and his desire to see and experience the refreshing presence of the Lord in his life once again. David isn’t wrestling with God in this psalm, he is wrestling with himself.
I can identify with that kind of frustration. David’s words remind me of another public journal entry in the Bible. About 1000 years after he wrote Psalm 13, the Apostle Paul wrote,
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (Romans 7:21-24)
Definitely not a “Day 1” journal entry!
Paul answers his own question, however, in the next verse: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Faithful frustration. “Day 2” journaling.
So to all of the journalers out there—good ones, bad ones, or somewhere in between. Follow David’s “Day 2” example today, embrace Paul’s “Day 2” promise. Trust in God’s unfailing love…rejoice in His salvation…sing His praises, for He has been good to you…today and every day! Don’t be discouraged, God hasn’t gone anywhere. Keep pressing into the live and love He offers. Stay thirsty for Him!