In this Digital Age of Communication, it is easy for us to communicate to people anywhere in this world and to know that our message is delivered, seen, read, played or listened by the recipient. I suppose, we all use social media platforms to be in touch with our friends, colleagues, family and our dear ones. I invite you to imagine with me that we have sent an important message to someone; it could be your boss, to your colleague, someone whom you dearly love or anyone else. After sending the message, you are eagerly waiting for a response from their side because you are urgently in need of their response. You know that the other person seen your message but still no response. Then how do you feel if the recipient of our message is not responding? You will be worried, impatient and angry at him/her for not responding even after seeing your message, isn’t it? You may even wonder why s/he is ignoring your message. What did I do to him/her that s/he is not responding? And I am sure you are not going to be nice to him/her the next time you meet him/her in person.
Now imagine that you have the same experience with God. You have been sending messages to God in the form of prayers but God seems to be on a silent mode. You have been praying and praying without ceasing but there is no answer to your prayers. You have been asking questions to God and expecting God’s intervention immediately. But sadly God is not responding; God seems to be not interested in your prayers. He seems to be far away from you. God is keeping Himself quiet. The more you pray the more distant you feel His presence. If you go through such an experience in your life, what would you feel? How do you respond to such situation? What kind of emotions, thoughts are going to pass through your mind?
I want to take your attention to the emotions of an individual from the Bible who had the same experience with God. Please turn with me to Psalm13. It is a psalm of David. It is really a short chapter. Let me read it for you: 1 How long, 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 day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? 3 Look on me and answer, 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. 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.
If you run your eyes through the first two verses, David is asking a series of questions. In just two verses, six questions. Let me repeat those questions for us. How long O, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long you will hide your face from me? How long must I take insult in my soul? How long should I have sorrow in my heart? How long shall my enemy triumph over me? As we read through this psalm we realize that David is in some kind of trouble. He is in pain. He is crying out saying Lord how long will it take for you to come and rescue me. How long it will take to remove the sorrowful thoughts out of my system. How long will it take for you to come and save me? And David is being real here. He is being human in fact by crying out saying God how long is it going to take for you to come and save me from this problem.
David feels like he is being forgotten by God. That is why he is asking these series of questions I suppose. He must be having this feeling of being forgotten by God for a long period of time. David thinks that God is intentionally hiding his face from him. In short, David is going through dark times in his life. Probably this could be the darkest time of his life. Why? Why do I say that? Because he is not concerned over some kind of material or financial loss rather he feels that he lost God himself, the greatest possession of his life; the greatest confidence of his life. He thinks that he lost God himself. Along with all the human struggles he has, God also forgotten him. Imagine what happens, if God was on his side, there is actually nothing to be worried. But now when David wants God the most in his life, he feels rejected by God. God is silent at him. But when I was going through this psalm, something got my attention. Even though, he is going through the darkest time or season of his life, He is addressing his concerns to God. In the midst of sorrow and pain, he has turned his attention towards God. In a state of helplessness, pain and sorrow, we tempt to go far away from God, we blame God for not changing our situation but here David is pushing himself little more closer to God and turning his face towards God.
My dear friends, you know, may be something you have been praying for years saying God how long, how long before you come and save me, how long before you come and rescue me. May be there is a health issue in your family and you have been praying for a family member asking God how long before you heal him. May be there is a financial problem that you are going through and you have been asking the Lord, how long before you come and deliver me out of it. May be there is a relationship issue that has been broken over the years and you are asking God, how long before you are going to heal and mend that relationship back together.
How long is a very common question that we as humans constantly ask? These are normal, natural, genuine questions we ask. This is very true, isn’t it? For us as humans when we are put in an unfamiliar situation, we normally immediately tend to ask how long it would take. I remember my children asking me when they were small during our travels to some places, after a few minutes of drive they would ask- did we reach or how long it is going to take to reach the destination. Is this going to end soon? You may be going through the dark seasons of your life, may be facing financial loss, problems in relationships, health issues, or loss of dear ones and the list goes on and on. It could be any kind of problems, and I know all losses are painful and your pain is genuine.
You may think that God is being unfair to you, even after praying to God for a change, you are not receiving the answers to your prayers. Then you may ask many questions like David; Lord, how long I must suffer these same problems again and again. And how long I am going to have these same issues at my work place; you may ask God-can’t you see what I go through O Lord? But in your state of helplessness, do not turn away from God rather let us turn towards God. In Psalms 77 verse 2, we see the Psalmist is saying “When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven” Yes, let us seek the Lord in our days of darkness, in our days of struggles. Let us run to God rather than running away from God.
Now let us again come back to the read psalm. Let us look at David’s complaints now. He lists his sorrow before God. Almost all through the day he is sorrowful at his heart which means his heart is so heavy due to his concerns. It could be concerns of many kinds; the text is not clear about what kinds of problems that he is facing at the moment. But it makes a point that he is troubled by his enemies and his enemies are rejoicing over his fall. That is why he is using strong words like “Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death”. They are strong words. Let us pause here and think for a moment. First of all he feels that God is not interested in him and his struggles did not matter to God at all. On top of that, he has troubles from other people around him. But as we go through this psalm, David sounds innocent in expressing himself here. He is bluntly expressing his emotions before God. From the psalmist, though we hear the words of faith, it seems he uses the language of a defeated man.
When people hear that the prayers of a person are not answered; they may think there is some problem with the spirituality of that person. They might even say; don’t blame God for this because it is not God’s problem rather it is our problem. Whenever there are words of defeat and failure, we may think that there is some problem with our spirituality. We are not spiritually fit or we are far away from God that is why we go through failures in our life. But the psalmist is challenging us to be real before God. Bible doesn’t say anywhere that you should only be expressing your happy feelings before God, whenever you come to the presence of God. You should not try to be happy always before God; rather you should try to be genuine and honest before God. If you are happy, happily express your feelings. But if you are sad, express your sadness as you express your happiness before God. You can be who you are in the presence of God. I would say in fact, you can only be who you are before God or in the presence of God. Because others when they hear about your stories of defeat, your weakness, your failures, your problems which you go through; they may question you, they may put you down. But you can share anything and all kinds of problems with God. If you are struggling with something which you cannot tell anyone else, do not worry but confidently bring that matter to God.
We can bring any kind of problems to God because you can trust Him and He can trust you. He will never reject us for expressing our genuine self before God. We don’t need to be nice to God at all the times. We can be honest before God. I don’t know about your experience but I can testify that I always felt the warmth of God’s presence when I am genuine before God. I remember those times when I cried before God like an innocent child in my frustrations and said everything I wanted to say about my life situation which I was not in control. And I felt embraced by God with His love. So, if you are looking for a breakthrough in your life, be real and genuine before God and tell Him all your difficulties, share all your problems with God. God is more interested in your broken real self than the fake self that we show sometime.
In this psalm we see though David raised all those questions, but immediately David humbles himself. For me, this is what really stood out as I was reading this psalm. In verse 5 we see, “But I trust”. Look at these three words “But I trust”. What a simple phrase but what a profound meaning! You know, honestly we do not have all the answers. We don’t have answers to all what is happening around us. We don’t have any answers in fact. May be we haven’t seen the worst yet. May be this is just the beginning and there is far more things to come. I am not trying to get you all worried or scared but I am just trying to be real here. I just want to let you know that we don’t have the answers to all the problems of our life. But we can take confidence from what David is writing is that “but I trust in your unfailing love”. Isn’t it amazing? No matter what happens in our life or around us, but we can always take confidence in God’s grace and in His amazing love.
Again let us go further into the psalm. When we come to verse 6, it reads like this “I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” Do you remember the way the psalm is starting? We know the psalmist started with a series of questions but here when we come to verse 6, his questions are turned in to joy. Though he started with series of questions, it all ended in praise. This is what happens when you turn to God in the days of your trouble and in your dark situations of life. The psalmist says here, in the days of his trouble, he trusted in the steadfast love of God. Now if you ask some students, about the most difficult days of their education; they would all say that; it is the days of their examinations. Why is that? That is the time their teacher is silent in their class room. Teacher doesn’t teach anything in the examination hall. Teacher is available to clear any kinds of doubts in the class room. Students can ask any kind of doubt; teachers will try their level best to answer. But in the exam hall, teacher is silent; but it doesn’t mean that the teacher is absent. Though the teacher is silent, teacher is present there closely watching their students and very carefully observing each and every student. This is what happens when you go through the dark days of your life. You may think that God is absent and He is far away from you. But that is not true. He is close to you and He is closely observing and watching you to see how much you have learnt in life’s journey. This is your testing period.
When you feel a period of silence from God, don’t think that God has rejected you rather God is close to you and watching you, to see how much you are able to withstand in your dark times. He has never left us. He has never left any one. In fact, someone rightly said that “God is more close to us than our next breath”, whether you are able to feel it or not. Psalm 34:38 tells us, “He is near to the broken-hearted.” He is closer than the air we breathe and He wants to bear our burden for us. God is more close to us than anyone else. He is really interested in your struggles. But this may be a period of time where you don’t see the visible hand of God but soon just like David, it is all going to end in praise; if you keep on looking at the face of God.
I just want to encourage you all through this message that God is in control. So, don’t give up, just trust Him, trust in His unfailing love. Charles Spurgeon once said like this “we cannot always trace God’s hand but we can always trust God’s heart.” Yes, just trust God’s heart; trust in His unfailing love for you and for me. David goes on to answer if you were thinking but how do I trust, how do I trust God in my troubles, how do I focus my trust on God, you know the answer again is in verse 6, I will sing the Lord’s praise for He has been good to me. Isn’t it that amazing? That our answer is found in our praise; so let us sing His praises, worship Him, give Him thanks, and remember His goodness. That is what David says for He has been good to me. So, remember the good things that He has done and praise Him in the storm. Let us lift our voices, no matter what situation we are in? Whatever situation you are in, start worshiping, start praising because praise unlocks God’s heart for us and that is what I want to remind us that let us put our trust in Him. Psalm 13 is really a short Psalm but it has a profound meaning. Although these three words are short and simple, I want all of us to remember this- but I trust! Put your trust in Him. This is the key to all our problems that we are going through in our lives.