The early twentieth century American humorist, Robert Benchley, once quipped: “I wish the sun would go away so I didn’t have to go out in it!”
I guess at times we have all felt like this when perhaps facing the demands of a difficult working week ahead. For some people this feeling is less a passing light-hearted reflection, but rather a cry of despair about a life that has lost meaning or a sense that the world is stacked against you.
Today’s Psalm tells how the writer was in a state of total loss about his future. The Psalmist cannot find a way through his problems and sees no light at the end of the tunnel. His enemies and the forces of evil overwhelm him and it feels that the wicked have free reign to do just what they want.
Like many today who look forlornly at how powerful nations wage war on defenceless civilians, whilst we look on helplessly, we ask, with the Psalmist: why is the bad person dominating; why is evil left unchecked?
In fact, the Psalmist goes further. In his bewilderment and torment, he asks boldly where is God in all this? Why is God so far away; why is God hidden in times of trouble?
I recall reading a commentary on this Psalm some years ago and the writer regarded the Psalmist’s railing at God in this way as somewhat inappropriate and embarrassing; so the commentary struck a rather apologetic note.
For me this misses the point. Faced as we are with the awful and often unjust things happening in the world, and in our own lives, it is entirely appropriate for us to express our despair, our hopelessness … and yes, even our anger and doubts, to God.
God has broad shoulders and can take it! He wants to hear and share our pain and anguish. Challenging, expressing our raw emotions, and raging at God is OK; ignoring him is not.
Dear God, When evil abounds and bad people prosper Where are you? How can you permit such things? We struggle to see any purpose in dreadful happenings. And then … through our sighs of despair through our cries of anger through our blinking tears we see you alongside us sharing our grief and anguish. Stay with us, Lord. Amen.
Professor Graham Handscomb Member of Christ Church URC Chelmsford