Read Psalm 13
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
Psalm 13 is another example of an honest psalm. David feels distant and abandoned by God–and he tells God that. In the opening two verses, David asks the question “how long?” a total of four times. He wants to know how long it will be before God will remember him, show His face, and rescue him again. David doesn’t hold back. At first glance, we might even think it’s too honest. Are we even allowed to talk to God like that? But such is the beauty of the psalms. They give us permission to voice our feelings to God. Who of us can’t relate to this psalm? At one point or another, we’ve all felt abandoned or forgotten by God. We’ve all wondered how long and we’ve all pleaded with God to show up for us again. David here gives us a template to follow for when we feel like this.
Even though he feels forgotten and abandoned by God, he still approaches God. Even though God feels distant, David still draws near. Even though he probably doubted that God was listening, he still prayed. David knows that he can’t trust his feelings. Feelings are real but they aren’t always reliable. He can acknowledge how he feels, but it doesn’t change the truth of who God is. So, at the end of the psalm, he reminds himself of the truth of God’s goodness, even if he isn’t currently feeling it.
When God isn’t answering our prayers how we want Him to (or as quickly as we want Him to), let’s remember this psalm and follow David’s response. Ask your questions, plead your case, beg God to show up, express your emotions, but then center your feelings in truth.
Because, as Isaiah 49 says, when God’s people said that the Lord had forgotten them, God responded by saying this: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you. See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” No matter how you may feel at times, God cannot forget His children. He is good, He is faithful, and He is with you.
- Have you ever felt distant from or forgotten by God? If so, what did you do?
- Do you tend to ignore your feelings or over-indulge them? How should we respond to our feelings?
- What is a truth of God that you need to remind yourself of today, regardless of the way you feel about it?
“The fact that we feel abandoned itself means that we really know God is there. To be abandoned you need somebody to be abandoned by. Because we are Christians and have been taught by God in the Scriptures, we know that God still loves us and will be faithful to us, regardless of our feelings.”
-James Montgomery Boice