Do return, O LORD; how long will it be? And be sorry for Your servants.
Underlying this anxious plea for the return of God, and for His compassion for His servants, there is a profound experience that I have often felt, but been hesitant to identify because it seemed to challenge some of the wonderful truths that I learned about God in my earliest lessons of the Christian faith. The experience is a sense of abandonment by God, impatience for Him to care enough to return (…how long?), and a desire that He would feel a certain way about me (…be sorry…). I don’t just want God to return and rescue me; I want Him to want to rescue me, because he sees my experience and feels something about it. The Hebrew word for return here is the same one often translated repent—even when it speaks of God. The implications of the very idea of God repenting of anything usually rates at least a page in any good theology—why would God ever change His mind about anything? And yet, Moses here asks God to do so. There are, as I wrote, plenty of theologians who are more than willing to let God off the hook here, and explain to us why Moses wasn’t really asking God to change, it just seemed that way. I’m not so sure.
I can’t solve the problem in today’s reading, or in a thousand days’ readings, because I am (in this sense, anyway) a Moses; I wonder where God is, why He is taking so long to help me, and if He is in anyway moved by my particular problems and feelings. According to the Bible, He is with me, is not late in showing up in my life, and cares about me. You are a Moses, too, if you’ve ever felt that way, had those questions, and yet still cried out to this LORD who seemed distant, late, and unconcerned. I hope you’re a Moses in this regard, not because I think you’re going to do great things for God, or because I don’t want to feel alone, but because I want for both me and you to keep crying out to God when He seems far away, seems in no great hurry to be here, and even appears to be detached from our feelings. For when we cry to God for his presence and compassion we are actually demonstrating faith in Him–a confidence not only that He hears us, but cares about our experiences, too.
Father, please give me the assurance of your presence and compassion that I so desperately need today. Please, don’t delay! By the end of this day, please let me look back on it and see that You are not only “with” me, but are also deeply and perfectly concerned for everything that I am going through, and all that I am feeling. I trust You with all of that, Father! Amen.