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Devotional Archives
(June 18, 2001)

How Long?

      By Fern Horst

"How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me." (Psalms 13:1-6)

I find it interesting that even David, who wrote this Psalm, felt at times as though the Lord had forgotten and abandoned him. We know from reading the life of David that God abundantly blessed him in many ways. And yet David also encountered many times of severe trial and heartache, and it must have been during some of these times that David felt as though the Lord had forgotten him.

The Bible says that David was a man after God's own heart, and yet his godliness did not keep him from difficulty and hardship. What it did provide for him, though, was God's protection and sustaining presence through the difficulties. The Bible also tells us that all those who are godly will suffer difficulty: "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (II Timothy 3:12). If we are living godly lives, we can expect at times to experience difficulty. When we do, we are often tempted to feel as though the Lord has forgotten us.

The hope that we have in this, though, is that no matter the difficulty we face, no matter how much it seems that God has abandoned us, we can always trust in God's mercy. In almost the same breath that David asked the Lord how long He would forget him, he also said, "I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me." We can all say this, if we only stop to see the many ways in which the Lord has dealt bountifully with us, even in the middle of very difficult situations. The Lord's very presence is a wonderful mercy to us. While He doesn't always spare us from difficulty, He always, always walks through it with us. Psalm 18 is a wonderful testimony of the Lord's sustaining presence: "For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places."

Throughout the Psalms we hear David calling out to God from the depths of his heart. When there was no place else to turn, David turned to the Lord. He acknowledged that he couldn't put his trust in men, in his army, in his horse and chariot -- nothing and no one but the Lord could truly help him. "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright" (Psalm 20:7-8).

We too must hold onto the Lord, even when it seems that He has forsaken us. When we trust Him, we can soon sense His sustaining presence and we can sing along with David, "I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies" (Psalm 18:1-3).

If you're feeling discouraged and abandoned by the Lord right now, take some time to read through the Psalms. They are a wonderful source of encouragement and inspiration while also identifying with the desperateness and rawness of human emotion and experience. Remember as you read that all of God's promises relate primarily to our spiritual health. Sometimes He takes us through the darkness of earthly experience to bring about what is most important: our complete trust and dependence on Him.

"The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate." (Psalm 34:18-22)

Copyright (c) 2001 Fern Horst
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