For the music leader. A song of David.
13 How long will you forget me, Lord? Forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long will I be left to my own wits,
agony filling my heart? Daily?
How long will my enemy keep defeating me?
3 Look at me!
Answer me, Lord my God!
Restore sight to my eyes!
Otherwise, I’ll sleep the sleep of death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I won!”
My foes will rejoice over my downfall.
5 But I have trusted in your faithful love.
My heart will rejoice in your salvation.
6 Yes, I will sing to the Lord
because he has been good to me. (Psalm 13:1-6, Common English Bible)
I feel pretty certain you have heard the phrase, “Life is hard, but God is good.” Those words are true. That was something David (the psalmist) clearly understood.
It is easy for us to read our way through 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel and see all the ways God had touched and blessed David’s life, often despite all David was doing, right or wrong.
What if David had lost to Goliath? To start with, Goliath and the Philistine army would have partied like it was 1050 B.C.E. I think it is also safe to say, the odds of us ever hearing about David would be dramatically reduced.
When David unexpectedly won, against all odds, people expressed their love for him in ways anyone, including Saul could see. It all left Saul insanely jealous. He wanted, no better, needed to be the center of everything.
Later, David’s son Absalom wanted his father’s throne. He didn’t want to wait for his father’s death. He didn’t want to wait for his time to come. He wanted instant gratification. Absalom would have killed his father or to use whatever means were necessary to get what he wanted.
These are but two instances in David’s life when someone close to him wanted him dead. We could add to that list, leaders of other countries and dissidents within his own country who would not have shed a tear at the demise of Israel’s king, God’s chosen king, or not.
No wonder David felt like everyone was out to get him through much of his life. They actually were out to get him. Constantly looking over your shoulder can make you tired and paranoid, and with good reason for both.
As I was studying for this post, the thought occurred to me, this is the eighth psalm of lament we have seen in the first 13 chapters. In each, by the end, the psalmist was showing love and praise for God. People are literally trying to kill these servants of God. The psalmists write of their great fear of living alone. They are afraid the bad guys will come in and at best haul them away to exile. At worse??? Still, somehow, in the end they are praising God. How could that be?
Paul reminds us, “Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When times in life are difficult, I find it hard to even do the simplest of tasks. Singing praises to God, who, at the very least seems to be a bit of pie-in-the-sky attitude.
On a head level we may understand the idea of allowing God control, even in the times when God seems to be far-away. We know God is omnipresent. We understand that God is always with us and would never leave us. We give praise, trusting in that promise.
On a heart level, we want to believe the idea of omnipresence, but the real truth is, our heart understanding doesn’t always align itself with our head knowledge. We want God to do something and we want it done now and that is our heart giving push-back to our head.
That feeling of having lost God and God wandering away from us at the time we have the greatest need for God to be with us can feel like a crushing weight. In Psalm 13, the psalmist wants God to come back in powerful ways to set everything right again, pushing the enemies causing him so much stress to fall back into proper place.
What I find most interesting, however, as much as the psalmist may feel God has wandered away, in the end, the psalmist is praying and singing in praise of what God has done already and will do in the psalmist’s life.
Last Sunday night I watched the CBS show, God Friended Me. If you don’t know the show you should check it out. In Sunday’s episode, the central human character, Miles, an atheist, is working to help a young woman, Anna, who has an aggressive form of cancer, to restore her faith and seek treatment for her dire condition and prognosis. He is also helping her to check things off of her bucket list as tries to convince her not to give up. As he is doing this, he is also trying to help his sister in her cancer treatments. Miles helps Anna get everything checked off on her bucket list but one thing and he helps her restore her faith, an ironic thing for an atheist to do. But, he is devastated because he is unable to convince Anna to get treatment though as things worked out at the end of the show, Anna died suddenly without seeking treatment. She also seems to fail in completing her bucket list.
At the end of the episode, Miles decides on his own to check off the last item from Anna’s bucket list. With his sister Ali, we next see Miles and Ali sitting on a park bench watching the sunrise over New York City. That simple act was the only thing left on Anna’s bucket list and she was not able to complete it. She had died the preceding night.
Through every episode we see Miles struggle with matters of faith. This one was no exception. It is easy to understand how he might miss the symbolism, had the character been a real person. He takes this last item on the bucket list quite literally. Many real people and not television characters would do the same. That much seems obvious when we see him sitting with Ali on the park bench. But, I think Anna checked that last item from her bucket list.
When Anna died, it was her life’s sunset but in that same instant she also experienced the ultimate sunrise. For Anna, it was a new day and God, who may have seemed far away through so much of her earthly struggle, walked with her into that new day. For me, at least, that is a great reason for praise, praise for that ultimate new day.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Seeking the Genuine,
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.
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