I think of God, and I moan;
I meditate, and my spirit faints. (Psalm 77:3, NRSV)
At a treatment program, a man once asked me if I had lost my faith through my struggle with bipolar. I told him I hadn’t, but that my faith had certainly been tested. I believe faith is something much more than a positive feeling that can pick you up when you are feeling down. Faith can also come in the form of a white-knuckled clenching to something (Someone) you can’t see, but you know has to be there.
My faith has come in stages. At times I’ve been blessed with the certainty of God’s loving presence. Other times, God’s presence feels like a curse. I’ve wanted to hide rather than open up and let God in.
These faith stages have shaped my prayer life. At times my prayer life consists of lying in bed and moaning to God to please make things better, give me the energy to get up, the motivation to do something. Other times my prayer comes in bursts of thought that flash before me so fast I can hardly keep track. Ultimately, I aim for a balanced prayer life that is calming and reassuring. Like most things in my life, though, my prayer life suffers from imbalance more than I’d like to admit.
The message in this verse is that we need take heart when all is not well within us. Meditating and moaning can come in the same breath. It does not mean God has left us or we have left God. The same God we are thinking of and looking to can revive our faint spirits and keep us going – at least until the next prayer.