Psalm 13:1-2 (NLT)
O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
David often felt abandoned by his own people…but in today’s psalm, he felt abandoned by God, too. Have you been there? Out of the despondency of his heart David repeats four times the haunting cry, “How long?” He does not appear to be trying to escape the consequences of his own sin, but rather, some circumstances under which he has no control. Have you been there, too? David pours out his feelings of fear and doubt…and even anger…but we must all remember that while feelings are valid, they do not define reality.
The younger generation in America is often referred to as “the snowflake generation” because they appear to be easily offended and generally less resilient than their predecessors. In short…they melt easily. Whether that is generally true or not is not the point. When you grow up expecting to be delivered almost immediately from any pain or discomfort or setback, you are going to “melt” quickly in the face of life’s normal challenges and/or defeats. But what if you knew those days were going to come? And what if you knew that in the end, you would be better off for them, and that they would not last forever? Then you would have hope…and comfort…and the fear would subside.
Jesus gave us an ironclad promise when He told us that, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). That trouble may come in the form of illness, or financial challenges, or family problems, or emotional instability…but rest assured, it will come. That’s a defining reality of a life lived in a deeply broken world. But there is another defining reality we must remember and ponder and fight to lay ahold of…and that is the reality of a life lived under the watchful eyes and caring hands of an everlasting Savior who holds all things together (Col. 1:17). Scripture puts it best:
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So, we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever (2 Cor. 4:17-18).
Our feelings can be powerful and worthwhile things…but also harmful and misleading things that seek to control our understanding of reality and may even cast doubt over our faith. Feeling them and expressing them, as David did, is good and natural…but following them, rather than the Lord, can be dangerous and even destructive. In verse 5 of this Psalm David makes the decision to trust rather than despair. He makes the decision to rejoice rather than reject. He makes the decision to rely on God’s goodness rather than his own emotions. We all should hope and pray and strive to do the same.