We often assume that the holiday season should be full of joy, but in seasons of suffering the festivities around us can make our emotional pain feel more acute. God’s Word is here to meet us in these times. We hope that this post by Matthew several years ago encourages your heart.

Whenever I read Psalm 13 it reminds me why I’m so grateful for the entire book. Time after time, the Psalms show me how real people fought to trust a real God smack in the middle of real suffering.  In verse 1, Kind David cries out to God.

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” 

Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’re hurting on the inside, more than you ever have before. You feel like God has dropped off the face of the earth. Either that, or He’s hiding from you. Relief is nowhere in sight, and you wonder if your present sorrow will devour you alive.

One of the most remarkable things about Ps. 13 is that it’s not a story of divine intervention. There’s no evidence of a happy ending. It’s a snapshot of David’s heart in the middle of devastating difficulty. We hear a man pouring out his heart to the Lord in anguish, and even then his circumstances don’t change. So what does the man do next?

What will you do next?

Trust God for who He is in the present

“But I have trusted in your steadfast love.” Notice here that David isn’t seeing it. He’s not feeling it. But he doesn’t need to see or feel God’s love in order to trust Him. Why not? Because David knows God’s love is steadfast, meaning it doesn’t waver or change regardless of what’s going on. Nothing is changing in David’s circumstances, and so he hurts. Nothing is changing in God’s love for Him, and so he trusts. We can rest confidently in that same truth because of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:39).

Hope in God for what He has promised to do in the future

“My heart shall rejoice in your salvation.” In the midst of present pain, David directs his gaze to a future joy: the salvation of the Lord. Notice David’s hope is intensely personal, and a far cry from the secular “confidence” that one day fate will smile upon him. He believes a day is coming when God will extend His hand and draw David out of his life of suffering. It may happen in this life. If not, it will certainly happen in the life to come. We can rest confidently in that same truth because of Jesus Christ. (Rom. 8:18).

Give thanks to God for what He has done in the past

“I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” Unrelenting suffering has the potential to turn David into an angry amnesiac. “Give thanks? Why should I? It’s not like God’s done anything for me lately.” No, that’s not David’s response. Quite the opposite, David refuses to allow present pain to blot out his memory of evidences of God’s faithfulness. He deliberately calls to mind all God has done for him already, and turns all that into a song of praise. We can rest confidently in that same truth because of Jesus Christ. (John 1:16).

Are you presently mired in suffering? Meditate on God’s word to you in Ps. 13. Then follow David’s example of trust, hope and worship.

 

If this post encouraged you, we would recommend “God’s Grace in Your Suffering” by David Powlison. This book is available in the Bookshop. You can also listen to our Sunday message series entitled Songs of Lament.
Matthew grew up attending KingsWay and joined the pastoral staff in 2009. God has blessed him and his wife, Aliza, with three rambunctious boys. Matthew did his undergraduate work at the University of Richmond in chemistry and political science, spent a year at the Sovereign Grace Pastor’s College, and received his Masters of Divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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