“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death.”
The Psalmists give us beautiful examples of prayers. I especially love the laments—honest, heartbroken emotions laid out before God. Even the honest wishes in the intensity of fearful emotion that shouts, “smite my enemies!” Many times, throughout scripture the question is asked, “How long?” (Psalm 13). Sometimes it’s God asking the people through a prophet as in 1 Kings 18:21 “Elijah then came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The people did not answer him a word.”
Our question, and our lament, continue to this day. How long, O Lord, how long will your people, your children created in your image, continue to wage war and violence against one another? And I think God asks, “How long, my children will it take you to understand that I created you and put you on this earth to be in peaceful, just relationship with one another? How long will it take you to stop this madness?”
March 8 was International Women’s Day. From what I’ve read in a variety of sources over the years, this has been a big day of celebration in Ukraine. Women of all ages have been honored with flowers, cards, candy. Not this year. Instead, women arms are filled with other things. They are making Molotov Cocktails instead of teaching, working, planting tulips and daffodils in their gardens. They are taking up arms as soldiers. They are taking children, the frail, elderly, and those with disabilities in their arms and fleeing to other countries. They are leaving homes and husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and friends who are staying behind to fight for their country. They are the latest refugees in a long list of women seeking shelter and safety for the ones they deeply love.
Since I am a grandmother, seeing pictures of some of other grandmothers taking up arms of war both inspires and deeply saddens me. I hope I would be as brave as the grandmother who gave a package of sunflower seeds to a fully armored Russian soldier and said, “Take these seeds so sunflowers grow here when you die.”[a]
“This weekend, women in Ukraine showed what it really means to hold a weapon capable of death and destruction. It means dissonance. It means darkness. It means wishing you weren’t holding it at all.”[b]
“How long, O Lord?” How long will we continue to perpetuate hate instead of love?
I fervently pray for wisdom, strength, and courage for all. Especially, I pray for those in power to be struck by the all-encompassing grace and mercy of God. Ok, I admit, I too, at times have prayed as the Psalmist—“smite mine enemy, O Lord”—just a good knock on the head to get their attention will do.
[a] BBC Twitter feed February 25, 2022
[b] The Washington Post, March 1, 2022