130) How Long, O Lord?

From Job 16:7-17  —  

Surely, God, you have worn me out;
    you have devastated my entire household.
You have shriveled me up…
God assails me and tears me in his anger
    and gnashes his teeth at me
God has turned me over to the ungodly
    and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked.
All was well with me, but he shattered me;
    he seized me by the neck and crushed me.
He has made me his target;
his archers surround me…
Again and again he bursts upon me;
    he rushes at me like a warrior.

My face is red with weeping,
    dark shadows ring my eyes…

      From The Color of the Night, by Gerhard Frost, pp. 70-71, Augsburg Publishing House, 1977:

     This is perhaps the lowest point in the Book of Job.  Here the suffering one bluntly accuses God of being an active enemy.  In dramatic detail he pictures the Lord’s attack.

     I lived with this book for many years, believing that this picture of the Enemy God was overdrawn and untrue to the believer’s experience.  “It can’t be as bad as that!” I thought.  The change came, for me, when my own 11-year-old led me into the deep valley of her pain.

     She had post-polio surgery involving muscle transplants, radical incisions in the foot and leg.  Pain was intense, especially throughout the night following surgery.  I remember her mother and I standing at her bedside that morning, saddened by her drawn face and fevered lips– evidence of the anguish she had endured.  My wife spoke to her comfortingly, “But you did pray, though, didn’t you?”  Looking almost defiantly at us, the child exclaimed, “Yes.  But mother, last night, for a while it seemed like God was my enemy!”

     Since then I have reflected that if a child can be required to endure such a fearful sense of abandonment, this experience cannot be far from any of us.  And I must add that in the intervening years I, too, have looked into such an abyss of spiritual desolation.

     It is best to be realistic about the blackouts and eclipses which can come without warning, even to those who have lived with God through the high places and low places of many years.  We are indebted to all believers of every age who have survived the wild and lonely valleys of desolation, and reported back to us that God is there and will bring us through.


Psalm 6:1-3  —  

Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
    or discipline me in your wrath.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
    heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish.
    How long, Lord, how long?


Habakkuk 1:2  —  

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
    but you do not save?


Psalm 71:19-21  —  

Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
    you who have done great things.
    Who is like you, God?
Though you have made me see troubles,
    many and bitter,
    you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor
    and comfort me once more.


“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?…

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

–Jesus on the cross, Matthew 27:46 and Luke 23:46