At the start of a conversation with someone we haven’t spoken with recently, the question often asked is along the lines of, “How are you getting on? How are you keeping? How’s life treating you”? to which the response may be something like, “Oh fine, not too bad”.
If we read Psalm 13, however, we can see that the Psalmist, whom we are told is David, was far from fine, and life was not good. Emotionally, he was in a bad way; hope was gone, and he felt helpless.
The exact reason for David being so downhearted is not clear. Some have suggested it may have been because of serious illness. Others think that his life was at risk from his enemies.
Regardless of the cause, he was going through a prolonged crisis. To make matters worse, he felt that God was doing nothing to help. He saw himself as God’s faithful servant but, in this time of need, he seems to have had no sense of God’s presence. It’s as if he has been left to struggle on and, in anguish, cries out to God,
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, O Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
This is a prayer of someone at his wits end. How long will all my problems go on he is asking. How long will you leave me to struggle on, God? How long before you help? David is so low he feels forgotten about by God, even forsaken.
‘How long?’ can be something we might ask God in prayer when going through our own hard times; times in life when it seems like it’s just one thing after another with no relief or resolution in sight. We get worn down and can feel we are at the end of our rope. How long can I cope? How long, Lord?
Yet, even though David was in the depths of despondency, something happened as he prayed. As he unburdened his heart before God,his focus changed from feeling abandoned by God to remembering how just how faithful God had been to him throughout his life.
He realised that God had never let him down or forgotten him in the past, so knew he could depend on Him now and for the future. It is no longer a prayer of despair but a prayer of confidence in God’s mercy.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
For us, this Psalm reminds us of the importance of continuing to pray and wait on God; something the Apostle Paul also reminded the people of the church in Philippi when he said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:6-7)
And peace is exactly what came to David as he prayed. His circumstances hadn’t changed at all but as he prayed, the turmoil in his life which blinded him to God was calmed. His despondency changed to a renewed confidence because he could again understand that God was with him.
Like David, for us there can be situations that overshadow everything; even blind us to God’s presence.
Like David, we may cry out to God in prayer but, let us, like David, also remember God’s unfailing love. Let us remember those times that God has been good to us.
Let us remember that God doesn’t change. Our understanding, our situation may change, but God’s love does not; that is constant and permanent.
In the words of the old hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness, “thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not, as thou hast been thou for ever wilt be”.
So then, no matter how we are feeling today, let us join with the Psalmist and with a thankful heart sing God’s praise and trust in His unfailing love.
Let us pray.
Almighty and Eternal God, in the quietness of this short time of prayer, we open ourselves to You asking that for this moment together You help us put aside all our concerns of the day.
Clear our mind of everything that would distract us from being at one with You so that we may simply rest in Your presence and feel your peace within.
Lord, You know what life has been for us this past week and exactly how we are feeling. You know that, for some, there have good times that made us smile and feel happy; and so, we give thanks. For others, it has been a difficult week for whom there was little reason for happiness, instead, are finding it hard to cope.
Yet we know, Lord, that even though we may wrestle with doubt and sorrow, You do not abandon us, instead, Your light shines in the darkness. You comfort us when we cry and lift us up when we fall.
It is, with a grateful heart we rejoice, trusting in Your unfailing love and knowing that You are with each one us, right beside us, in our own personal situation.
Amen, and let us go on and go out with God’s blessing and held secure in his love.