If you pray the Psalms long enough, you find they force you to put language to the nagging questions, the brooding anger and the unseemly exuberance that often goes unspoken.
Several of the Psalms ask God: “Why must I go about mourning?” Is it really necessary, God? Why all the gloom? And I’m not even talking about the behemoth philosophical conundrum: the existence of evil – I haven’t worked my way to that yet. I’m just asking why lovers hurt and bills pile up, why so many, near the end, look back with such regret? Why is friendship so hard to come by? Why does raising kids inevitably take me on this insane trip from joy to fury to boredom to anxiety back to joy, all before breakfast? Why do I get caught on this loop of anxiety or shame or addiction?
There’s goodness everywhere too, I know this; but at the moment, I’m wondering why are things so often so hard? Why all the mourning? Some might say it’s a fruit of our age, our self-absorbed, therapeutic idiosyncrasies trapping us in a small, obsessive circle. However, I’m reading the Psalms, not Psychology Today. Our foremothers asked these same questions. This is a human dilemma, not a modern dilemma.
When we seek to follow the kind God offered to us in the Bible and when we long to live a life awake to our own selves and to the world God has given us, at some point we find ourselves asking: God, why all the mourning?
And, perhaps annoyingly, the Psalmist doesn’t do much to answer the question. The Psalmist doesn’t break into a metaphysical soliloquy or chide the query. So far as I’ve found, there is no tight, logical response to the repeated request for clarification. The Psalmist simply, with songs and prayers, says: “Put your hope in God.”