Thanksgiving, an occasion traditionally celebrated in North America, is a timely reminder to be thankful. When things are not going as well, however, we struggle to find reasons to thank Him.
Sorrow finds a place in our hearts for various reasons – health issues, parenting difficult children, fractures in our marriages, or job insecurity – we often wish God would show up, at once! When we focus on the uncertainties ahead, negative and dark thoughts arise. In Psalm 13, David shows us how we can turn our sorrow into songs of joy to the Lord.
Sorrow in our hearts (vv. 1-2). “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long, will you hide your face from me? How long, must I wrestle with my thoughts and everyday have sorrow in my heart? How long, will my enemy triumph over me?”
In these two short verses, we see David asking “How long?” four times. In our pain, our impatience with God is unveiled. To wait on the Lord during these moments seems the hardest thing to do.
David felt deserted by God and that his prayers had not accomplished anything (“my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ and my foes will rejoice when I fall.” – v. 4). His feelings of loneliness and helplessness only accentuated the sorrow and pain. In crying silently, “Lord, why am I in this situation? Are you listening? Give me a sign Lord!” we too, wonder if He hears us, thinking He has forgotten us.
Song in our hearts (v. 6). “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.”
In this final verse, David’s prayer turns to confident joy and trust in God’s unfailing love. This confidence is founded on “hesed”, the steadfast love of God. This is God’s covenantal love for His people. As David recalls in Psalm 22:24, “For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted ones, he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” God hears every cry of our heart, He has not forgotten us!
Psalm 13 begins with David asking questions as he searched for explanations. He was brutally honest with God about his fears and the unrelenting sorrows he carried in his heart. How did David end with a song of joy to the Lord? What changed?
Sight to see (v. 3). “Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes.”
David’s circumstances did not change, but the Lord answered David’s prayer by giving him spiritual insight to know that He is with him despite how he feels. God cared for him, as He cares for us! Even in our sorrow, He is good. Knowing that makes all the difference.
Our sorrows and mood swings often blind us to God’s hand upon our situation. God can “restore the sparkle” (New Living Translation) to our eyes by reminding us through His Word of His goodness towards us. In Psalm 19:8, David writes, “The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” This is why we can sing to the Lord a song of hope, even amidst difficult times!
As we approach the end of the year, let us give thanks to God! For even in our sorrow, we can pour forth songs of joy to the Lord, because He has been good to us!
Lam Kok Hiang has over 30 years of experience in full-time Christian vocational ministry. He holds a MA (Biblical Studies) from Dallas Theological Seminary and has led Cru Singapore as National Team Leader since 2006. An avid runner, Kok Hiang shares a love for books with his wife, Sharon. Together, their desire is to see young leaders rise up in local churches and missions agencies across Asia.
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