Do Not Want

I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be in my mouth.
I praise the Lord—
    let the suffering listen and rejoice. – Psalm 34:1-2, Common English Bible

Fall came late to South Central Pennsylvania, where the first half of October felt more like August this year. On the first crisp day, I threw open the windows and let the breeze blow through the house, taking away the still and stale over-conditioned air.

It was perfect sleeping weather that night, but the next morning I woke up with stiff hands. I have rheumatoid arthritis (RA); the change of season that I appreciate also causes pain and swelling in my joints. It forces adjustments to my activities—less knitting, less walking, less working, more resting.

I hate resting.

I have to pray about this, because resting helps all the symptoms of RA I suffer. In the language of internet memes, I might pray, “Do Not Want,” which is a faithful prayer, I believe, one found throughout the Psalms in more poetic language, along with “Make It Stop” and “No No No.”

Psalms can make it all look pretty tidy. The complaints and cries for help have a satisfying resolution. Enemies are vanquished, victory is won, challenges are overcome. (Praise the Lord!) Were they all written by people whose troubles were over?

I think maybe not. I think maybe they were written by ferociously hopeful people.

When the problem is unsolved, the condition is uncured, the battle lost—let the suffering listen. I am out here praying with you.


I have socks to finish,
     and I do not want to rest.
Yet even when I cannot hold the knitting needles,
     even from my bed,
I will praise you, O God,
     or at least I will try.

About the Author
Martha Spong is a UCC pastor, a clergy coach, Executive Director of RevGalBlogPals, and the co-author of Denial is My Spiritual Practice (and Other Failures of Faith).