This has been a difficult year in so many ways, both for many of us as individuals, and collectively as a nation. Between the pandemic, economic distress and political conflict, we feel like we have it pretty bad. But we aren’t the first or only people to experience tough times. The people of Israel also felt from time to time that God must have gone off duty or turned against them. Some of those feelings made it into the Bible in the form of Psalms of lament, or complaint.
When we are experiencing difficult times, these Psalms can be of great comfort, knowing that God would rather have us complain about our situation to God than see God as irrelevant. One of the Psalms that is very meaningful to me is Psalm 80. This is in part due to having sung a musical setting of the Psalm when I was in my College Choir. Opportunities to sing the Scriptures imprint those words deeply on our minds and help us to remember the words.
May these words be our prayer, both individually and collectively.
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us!
3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
4 O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure.
6 You make us an object of contention for our neighbors, and our enemies laugh among themselves.
7 Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
17 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
18 Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name!
19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!