“O Lord of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?” (Psalm 80:4, NRSV)
The Psalms cover the entire range of human emotion: joy, sorrow, faith, doubt, despair, even rage! As prayers, they teach us that no human emotion is off limits in talking to God. In times we don’t know what to say or pray, they give us words. In this Psalm, the Psalmist is obviously wondering why his (or her?) prayers aren’t being answered. He assumes that God must be angry with them. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where our prayers seem for naught. We think that God is either angry with us or ignoring us. I believe that such is not the case. God is not angry with us and God is not ignoring us. For whatever the reason, our prayers go unanswered but our cries are heard, and God suffers with us. However, suffering is real and the emotions accompanying it are real. In the secular season of merriment at this time of year, we must remember that some folks are having a very hard time. They might not know that Christmas is really about God coming to share even hard times with us. Without discounting their suffering, maybe we can find a way to tell them.
Loving and knowing God, we give you thanks that you know our highest joys and our deepest despairs. Thank you for understanding us, loving us and sharing our lives with us, even when we cry out in pain and anger. Amen.
– The Editors