Trouble and misery aren’t your very own private garden where you can run away to to feel sorry for yourself.”
–Douglas Hirt (“The Kid”)
“Because for every matter there is a time and judgment, Though the misery of man increases greatly.”
–Ecclesiastes 8:6 (NKJV)
“Whate’vr my fears or foes suggest,
You are my hope, my joy, my rest.
My heart shall feel your love and raise
My cheerful voice to sing your praise.”
Have you ever felt that God has abandoned you? Maybe you think that He doesn’t care or that He doesn’t have time for little ol’ you. When you read the psalms of David you find that he is very honest in his thinking and emotions. If you have felt frustration and abandonment, well, so did David. Look at Psalm 13 (HCSB):
1 How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
4 Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
5 But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
David is really struggling when he pens this psalm. The RSV states in verse 2, “How long must I bear pain in my soul?” It is more than just an emotional response, but there is deep anguish. The NIV puts it this way, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts?” Sometimes there is a real war raging in our minds. Because of that we often magnify the problems we are facing and add a “what if” to everything. Notice, however, there is a progression in this psalm. This is good to keep in mind. The first two verses we see David complaining. That is the place where so many Christians get stuck. They get in complaining mode and move from it. David moves quickly from complaining to praying. Finally, he is brought back to his senses and faith again takes hold for he is trusting and rejoicing. We need to pray long enough that we come out rejoicing knowing that God is in control.
Alfred Edersheim said, “Let me be one of the upward and outward lookers, not one of the downward and inward lookers.” We need to get out of the “woe is me” and get back on track and say “great is the Lord.” Listen! Feelings do not always tell us the truth about God. You may “feel” as if He is not there, but didn’t He promise never to leave or forsake us? Faith must come into play and is must always answer feelings. In fact, it should be faith followed by feeling, but we most often put it the other way around. When we continually complain and look inward to ourselves weakness tends to follow and we lose control of the situation and that produces apprehension and fear. Look up! “But I have trusted in Your mercy.”
F.B. Meyer lists characteristics of “People who dwell in the dust”:
1) those who feel forsaken by God,
2) those who feel their prayers are going nowhere,
3) those who are discouraged with life’s possibilities,
4) those who are going through difficult financial or physical stresses,
5) those who are stuck in a job or family situation they can’t get out of.
Perhaps it is time for them to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and get back to living the life that God has intended for them.