Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
24 Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our belly clings to the ground.
26 Rise up; come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love! (Psalm 44:23-26 ESV)
I love the audacity of the psalmist to address the Lord in such a way: “Awake, Why are you sleeping, O Lord?” It is not as though the psalmist thinks the Lord sleeps. He is not making a theological statement. He expresses instead the anguish of his soul. He can’t understand the suffering of the nation since they have not turned from God to an idol. We go through times in which we feel anguish of the soul, but may not know what to do about it. We don’t want to accuse God of wrongdoing. We don’t want to wallow in self-pity. We don’t want to suppress it out of a sense that we shouldn’t feel that way. The psalms help us by directing our anguish. We can express it to the Lord. The psalms help us to put it into context with relevant truth. In this case, the psalmist begins with a recounting of God’s favor upon them. This becomes the thing that fuels his faith to make such demands of the Lord as he does in verse 26, “Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!” We find that his basis for making such a demand is not his own righteousness, though he has expressed that earlier in the psalm as part of the puzzle of their suffering, but the steadfast love of the Lord which has been on display throughout their history. This is how we too can go to the Lord in expectant prayer with anguish in our soul.
What have you done with anguish in your soul?
Chronological Reading Plan plus Psalms: Lev 1-4, Ps 44