Monday, June 19, 2017

"How Long, O Lord?" A Father's Day Reflection

Shortly after Bob died, my brother Henry sent me a CD from Brian Doerksen, asking me to listen specifically to the song "How Long O Lord," which is based on Psalm 13, a psalm of David.    It is a beautiful and haunting song.

This particular psalm has three different components to it:  the question of anxiety, the cry of prayer, and the song of faith:
L-R:  Yvonne, Henry, Dad holding Renita, Liz, Janette

Psalm 13
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

This song ministered to me in the year following Bob's death, and now it ministers to me in thinking about my father, Peter Kranenburg.  Seven years ago, my dad entered a nursing home with dementia (at the time they were thinking it was Alzheimers but because there has been no other deterioration, they are now thinking it is dementia).  At the time he entered, he had about a thirty second memory but he still knew all of us.  Seven years later, he doesn't recognize most of us, his body is still quite strong, yet he spends day after day sleeping in a wheelchair, unable to converse in any meaningful way, unable to walk, and unable to remember that he cannot walk.

And so I, like the psalmist, I wonder, "How long, O Lord?" will you forget your servant, Peter Kranenburg?  Four times this psalmist cries out, "How long?" and feels separated and abandoned by God.  While my Dad isn't capable of articulating that feeling, I feel it on behalf of him.  My dad struggled with anxiety his whole life; his parents struggled with anxiety; I have struggled with anxiety.  I hear the anxiety in these questions, the feeling of abandonment and darkness and despair.

From despair, the psalmist then makes his request, "Give light to my eyes."  The lights are mostly gone from my father's eyes.  Those lights will only be restored in a heavenly place.  My dad wasn't a perfect father nor a perfect pastor.  But he gave many years of service and strived to serve, despite struggling with anxiety and depression.  And now he sits day after day after day in a wheelchair, week after week, month after month, year after year, languishing, seemingly forgotten.  Look on him and answer, O Lord!

But the delight in this psalm comes through the song of faith in the last two verses:  BUT I trust in your unfailing love.  My heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing the Lord's praise, for he has been good.

I know my dad would say that as well.  He would give testimony to God's grace and mercy.  He would most assuredly say that He has been good. His love is unfailing, even when things seem quiet and dark.  My heart is assured of my dad's salvation and of my own, and for that there is much rejoicing.

I made a video montage set to this song from Psalm 13, with pictures of my dad.  If you haven't heard this song, I encourage you to listen to it as it is beautiful.

I miss you, Dad.  I long for you to be free from your earthly prison and to rejoice with your Heavenly Father.  I love you.

[Health update:  I thought I was getting better last week but was not to it was good that I cancelled the portion of the trip to Ghana.  I did the labs and am hoping for a new diagnosis and treatment soon.  I am scheduled to leave for Nigeria on June 27 and hope to be better by then!]