Silent: How Long O Lord? (Psalm 13)

https://growinggodlygenerations.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/nov-7_psalm-13_how-long-o-lord.mp3

MOTIVATE

The world we live in can be dark. Darkness can cause doubt and disbelief in God. There is hurt and suffering both physically and spiritually. Most people, especially Christians, do not want to speak about this subject as conversations and relationships remain superficial. However, if everyone is honest, we all are suffering some how and in some way; which also means that we all have some level of doubt or even disbelief about God. We wonder, most of us not out loud, how could God allow a world of darkness to exist? The Bible says, “God is light and in him there is no darkness” (1 John 1:5). If God is so good why is there pain and suffering?

These are honest questions. For certain, I do not have all the answers. Over the next four weeks we will be exploring the psalms for such answers. One of the realities of the psalms is that the psalmist shares our struggles. He has walked in our shoes and experienced our emotions. He is not intimidated by the awkwardness of speaking honestly about the darkness. And that is the point of this series: God of Darkness – the fact that God deals with the darkness in our life by giving us sustaining grace. He will not always remove us from darkness but he gives us his presence to see us through.

We must realize that the Bible, in this case the book of Psalms, helps us not feel alone. In our desperate lives, we must realize that there is Someone else who gets it, who understands. The psalmist does – but even more, Jesus does. Jesus suffered even to the point of disappointment and death. He understands.

Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also… I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 14:1-3, 16:33).

Nancy Guthrie says, “Have you ever wanted to get closer to Jesus? I know you wouldn’t have chosen this method [of suffering] to get there. We wish we could get closer to Jesus by saying a prayer, going to a Bible study, reading a book or in some other convenient and controllable way. But the truth is, it’s uniquely through our own sorrow that we can draw close to the Man of Sorrows.”[1]

This world is not our home! The psalmist, with Jesus, reminds us to look beyond ourselves to One whom we can trust and is a mighty fortress (Psalm 46:1).

EXAMINE                        Psalm 13     3 godly responses to suffering

This psalm was written by David, likely during his troubles running for his life from King Saul. It seems David’s entire life was one long obstacle. But man’s obstacles are God’s opportunities to grow our faith. David repeats the question to God “How long” 4X (14X throughout Psalms), showing his frustration and intense desire for deliverance. To him it seems like his suffering will never end and God is silent.

ð      Have you ever noticed that when in unwanted circumstances time seems so slow and longer than reality?

  • Darkness can result in wasted time if we allow it.
    • Thinking restlessly God is absent – “hiding his face”
    • Talking to self rather than God & others – “taking counsel in my soul”
    • Depression & self-pity – “sorrow in my heart all the day”
    • Fear and paranoia – “my enemies are exalting over me”
  • The key is to discern God’s purpose which happens by retaining an active prayer life.

 

When God is silent keep praying (13:1-3).

Through David’s suffering he realized he must cease taking his own counsel and look outside himself. He prayed to God, “consider and answer me… light up my eyes”.  This is a prayer of revival. David’s spiritual life was weakened by his circumstances and perhaps his sin.

  • Darkness can bring temptation to sin. Our spiritual life gets displaced by finding delights in the world which deaden our souls.

We must pray for God to refresh his Spirit and light up our eyes with his infinite, matchless glory. “Restore us again, O God of our salvation… will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:4, 6)

When we pray we are reminding ourselves that God hears, cares and responds to every prayer. Prayer changes our perspective to see our life and circumstances rightly. The question “how long?” can only be answered by continually praying to God.

ILLUSTRATION: 9/11 victims under the rubble kept calling and eventually made reception to identify location and be rescued.

Jesus invites us to a praying life with response to our questions saying, “Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things [His Holy Spirit – Luke 11:13] to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:7-11

When God is silent keep trusting (13:4-5).

David’s circumstances left him shaken. He felt forgotten and forsaken by God, but it wasn’t true. He became dominated by his feelings rather than his faith. He was more concerned over what his enemies thought about him rather than what God thought. His idol was acceptance in the eyes of others.

 –          Feelings and emotions are not the basis of your identity, though they are often what is presented on the outside. Feelings and emotions reveal character; they are idol identifiers.[2]

  • Ex.1 A person who expresses overt anger over being told they are wrong is revealing the idol of pride. You don’t see pride but you see the anger surfacing from the pride.
  • Ex.2 A person who expresses overt anxiety over losing something (relationship, object, etc.) is revealing the idol of lust for that thing. You may not necessarily see their obsession for that thing until it is threatened to be lost.

ð      What are you trusting to bring you security and acceptance?

As David turned his heart to the Lord in prayer he trusted in God. His trust was restored by recalling God’s salvation. When we lose focus of God’s salvation and love we will feel forsaken by God. Our feelings are not a trustworthy

foundation. As David, we must train our heart and mind to the reality of God’s steadfast love.

µ      We trust God’s steadfast love by giving God’s voice more volume than the world’s voice.

  • We will listen to the most frequent and loudest voice. If we consume more secular television and media more than Scripture and prayer than God’s voice becomes diminished. We must give God’s voice a greater volume in our life if we want to trust Him in all things.
  • 

When God is silent keep singing (13:6).

Despite David’s feelings of God being silent he could not remain such. He learned to trust God beyond his circumstances and expressed his faith by singing. David was often filled with song in joyous times but it says much of his faith that he could sing in sorrow. His motivation for singing was because of the realization of God had “dealt bountifully” with him. The phrase bears the idea of completeness – God has thoroughly provided and filled his life with favor. [3]

µ      Notice here too that David is operating in the realm of feelings. His emotions are expressed to the joy of God.

APPLY/THINK

*Why do people suffer? Use Scripture to support answer.
* How am I responding to God in the midst of darkness or suffering?
* What does it mean to be a “fair-weather” friend of God?
*How can you develop a praying life when it feels like God is silent?
*How does this song (below) speak to dark times in your own life?

In the late 1860’s life was good for Horatio Spafford and his wife Anna. They had four daughters: Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta, and one son: Horatio Jr.  Horatio was a successful Chicago lawyer and prominent business man. He invested a large amount in real estate by the shores of Lake Michigan. They were active in the abolitionist movement as well as leaders in an evangelical movement with famed preacher Dwight L. Moody. Their life was filled with the joys and contentment of loving family and serving God.

However, in 1870 their faith was tested by tragedy. Their 4 year old son died of scarlet fever. In 1871 the Great Chicago Fire destroyed their real estate holdings, along with 250 people dying and 90,000 left homeless.  The Spaffords did not despair and kept their faith. Even though finances were mostly depleted they still sought ways to help the homeless, feed the hungry and care for those families impacted by the fire.

In 1873 the Spafford’s attempted to put family tragedy behind them and they planned a trip to Europe to assist Moody in conducting England revivals. Horatio sent his wife and four daughters on to Europe while he was to remain behind finishing up some business dealings. Unfortunately, tragedy would strike again as the steam ship the family traveled on collided with a British iron sailing ship. Only 81 of 307 passengers & crew survived and only Anna, Horatio’s wife survived.  Anna’s physical body experienced pain from the shipwreck but it was her heart that hurt the most in losing her four daughters. The words she hung on to from a friend were this: “It’s easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God.”

Horatio traveled to see his survived wife. While crossing the ocean at the spot of the wreckage he would reflect and write this hymn: “It Is Well With My Soul”

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend

Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


[1] Hearing Jesus Speak Into Your Sorrow. pp. 5-6. She goes on to quote Philippians 3:10-11 of Paul identifying with Christ through suffering.

[2] Some thoughts influenced by biblical counselors such as this http://www.ccef.org/strong-emotions-extreme-confidence

[3]Kidner, D. (1973). Vol. 15: Psalms 1-72: An introduction and commentary. Originally published: London : Inter-Varsity Press, 1973. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (95). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

2 comments

  1. This is has inspired me alot and changed the way i view things, i cannot afford to dispair or give up on this journey of faith and even now when am passing through fires in my darkest moment i will keep on singing.

    1. Amen and credit to the Lord’s grace. Thank you for sharing honestly. Life is a journey of perseverance and I pray for you to see God’s faithfulness in your circumstances.

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