How long, O God?
Have you ever found yourself lamenting in prayer this phrase?
Nearly two decades ago I assumed the online name / alter ego Jael. The Old Testament story of her courage in exposing an evil man spoke to me at a deep, spiritual level. I wanted to be Jael. I wanted to have her strength and bravery. I wanted her story to be my story (Judges 4:1-23, 5:1-31).
But it wasn’t.
I wasn’t brave; I was weak.
I struggled back then to understand my worth. It was never said aloud to me, but hidden actions screamed that I was less than, insignificant, an object to be used and abused. I longed to be accepted and protected. I confused being desired with being loved.
All these years later and I am still trying to heal from those wounds. They claw at my mind in the dark as I struggle to retreat into sleep. I wake in the middle of the night, covered in sweat, heart racing, eyes leaking memories of things I’d much rather forget.
How long, O God?
Turning on the TV or browsing social media has been super triggering lately. Story after story of (men and) women coming forward with claims of sexual harassment, rape and abuse. Cries of “me too!” and “church too!” echo off the lips of the sons and daughters of the Holy One. I want so badly to turn it off. Figuratively and quite literally. But, I can’t. And, isn’t this what I prayed for? Didn’t I beg God to bring these atrocities to light? Isn’t this a clear answer to a very recent prayer?
Why then does it seem like He’s so distant. Is there unconfessed sin in my heart, Lord? Bring it to mind if there is so I can confess it! This distance and silence is breaking me. I am crumbling under the weight of a load I was never meant to carry.
Did I do the wrong thing? Was it not your will for me to finally speak out? Did I go about it the wrong way? Have I burdened the leadership of your church and caused them to distance themselves and shun me? Is this guilt and shame I am feeling simply an attack from the enemy?
How long, O God?
I retreat to the quiet places and look for you. I pick up the bible and read, but my heart is only temporarily softened. It’s as if my entire being has turned into a hardened sponge and only drops of water are being absorbed at a time. I spend hours reading, praying, seeking, begging God for relief.
Is that the problem? Is it that I idolize relief and comfort over truly knowing You, Lord? Have I fallen into that trap again? If so, I beg You God, break me of that habit and give me eyes to see You in a way I haven’t before. Humble me, Lord. Break down my pride and subdue me. Do whatever it takes! I still struggle to trust You over my feelings, Lord. Give me the power to persevere, believe, and obey. Help me to make this life
more all about You and less not about me!
Show me Your goodness!
And, thank you for this opportunity for my faith to grow.
He thinks that you, a woman
will give him all that he desires:
warm welcome, the work of your body,
a pillow to repose upon and sleep.
So when he speaks, he uses his own language;
the glint of his armor and the dried blood on his sword
will do the translating for him.
He is a commander.
You are a woman as women ought to be,
and your deferential bows will bring your forehead to the floor.
And his, as well:
His head will never leave it
when you show him what a woman can do in the strength of her own power,
and drive the tent stake through his temple
as he sleeps in your perfumed bed.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
1 Have mercy on me,[a] O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right[b] spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.