When the Night is Long

Tony Sammut   -  

One of the things we have heard repeated through this “I’m Not OK” series is that much of the time, our deepest struggles – whether depression, anxiety, addiction, grief, trauma, etc. – seldom get sorted out quickly.   These things have a way of lingering in our lives.  Yet, what does it look like to continue to journey with God through the long and lasting dark night of the soul?

It seems the psalmists were not unfamiliar to persistent, enduring pain.  Because one of the more common questions we find them crying out to God with is, “How long, Lord?”  How long will my heart be in anguish?  How long will my enemies seem to triumph over me?  How long will you remain distant from me?

Psalm 13 is just one of many psalms that offer us a pathway for bringing our enduring pain to the God who walks with us through each step.

Begin each day’s reflection with two minutes of silence.  Use the quiet to allow yourself to be present to God, present to your own thoughts and emotions, present to how He may want to speak to you in these moments ahead.  When you’re ready, read the entire psalm once or twice slowly.  Then work through the day’s reflection.

Day 1: Perplexity (v.1-2)

Consider the five questions that the psalmist asks of God.  What might these questions reveal about this person’s life situation?  How might you describe the state of his heart? Is there one of these questions that particularly resonates with your own heart?  Ask it of God?  Express to him what you are feeling and what this question triggers in your own thoughts and emotions right now.

Day 2: Petition (v. 3-4)

The opening lament is followed by a petition (v.3-4).   Read this petition over two or three times.  What is the psalmist asking of God.  Write out each request you see.  Is there one or more parts of this petition that your own heart wants to join in with?  Ask it of God.  As you do, consider what your primary emotion is as you offer your petition – Desperation?  Confusion?  Hopefulness?  Fatigue? Anger?  Write out your own short petition, no longer than the psalmists.  Could this be something you could memorize, and continue to pray over the course of your day or week?

Day 3: Perspective (v. 5)

The psalm takes a noticeable turn in verse 5.  How would you describe this change?  Even in the midst of his enduring pain, the psalmist directs himself to trust and rejoice.  What does he trust in?  What does he rejoice in?  Join the psalmist in his decision to trust and rejoice in God.  What do you trust in today?  What do you rejoice in today?

Day 4: Praise (v. 6)

The psalm finishes with a song of praise; a declaration of God’s goodness, even in the midst of this dark and lasting night.  The psalmist is remembering that even his darkest night does not erase the goodness of the Lord. Listen to “The Goodness of God” by Bethel.  If you’re able, sing along with it out loud. Rehearse some of the ways that you know God has been good to you, big and small.  Praise him for his goodness.

Day 5: Practice…

Read over the entire psalm once again, and consider the journey that this psalm takes through Perplexity, Petition, Perspective, and Praise.  Summarize your own reflections over the last few days by writing your own psalm, following this same pattern.  If you’ve been journaling over the past few days, you may even wish to use some of what you’ve written down already as part of your personal psalm.