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  • Len Rempel

How long, O Lord?

Updated: Mar 14

The book of psalms that we find in our Bible is a book of prayers.  There are various types of psalms included but the most common type among the 150 psalms is the psalm of lament.  According to the Oxford Dictionary a lament is “a passionate or demonstrative expression of grief.”  The Cambridge Dictionary adds the idea of “complaint” to the definition.

When I read the lament psalms, I certainly feel these expressions coming through the words of the psalmist.  These words include complaint.  The complaint is often directed to God!  It seems amazing to me that this model of prayer is in the Bible, and that it teaches us to complain to God.

In these complaints, the psalmist asks God, on eight occasions, the question, “How long?”  It is not a simple question about the time as in the proverbial car ride question, “Are we there yet?”  The question “How long, O Lord?” is an emphatic plea, a passionate cry, a lament, a complaint.

Over the last few years these words have also come up more often in my own prayers, not for myself but for so many who are experiencing such suffering.  I must admit that I have not suffered; I have lived a privileged life.  I know that even if I don’t always remember it.  Turning on the news or clicking on a news website quickly reminds me.

Since October, the people of Gaza have not ever been far from my thoughts.  The portion of land called the Gaza Strip is about 41 km long and from 6 to 12 km wide.  I checked on Google maps and discovered that the distance from north to south of Gaza is approximately the same distance as the drive from our home in Warman to the Mennonite Nursing Home near Rosthern.  

I have driven that road a number of times and there are generally not many people along the way.  In Gaza, at least prior to the recent destruction, there were almost 2 ½ million people.  Imagine twice the population of Saskatchewan all living along the highway between Warman and Rosthern.  Now imagine that area being bombed with no place for the people to go.

How long, O Lord?

On March 23 & 24, the MC Sask Ministries Commission along with the Living Skies Region of the United Church are holding a Gaza Peace Pilgrimage in Saskatoon (part of the  This is not a rally, but a spiritual walk of contemplation and prayer. At the beginning, mid-point, and end of each day, we will pause for guided prayer, reflection, and lament.

When we cry out (and even complain) to God, we need to be ready to hear from God.  We also need to speak up to others, in particular the powers of this world.  This pilgrimage is one of the things that comes out of our crying out and it is a way of saying that God’s people stand for the justice of all people.  At times like this we cannot be silent.

For more information on the Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage - Saskatoon, see this link:  This event is open to anyone who would like to join for all or park of the walk.  You are also welcome to come for the times of prayer, no walking necessary.

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