When we are going through problems and pain, we often ask God how long will they last. How long will the financial problems last? How long will the unemployment last? How long will the sickness last? How long will the family problems last? How long will I be in this place? How long will I hurt? How long will you abandon me, God? If you find yourself asking God, "How long?", be encouraged. David, described in the Bible as a man after God's own heart, asked the same question.
In Psalm 13, David asked God,"How long, O Lord?". Like us, he was experiencing problems and pain in his own life. Through David's honest communication with God during this time, we learn much about the question, "How long, God?". We also learn much about what we are experiencing in our hearts and minds. Here are five things we learn about ourselves.
1. We Feel Abandoned By God (Psalm 13:1).
When we are going through difficulties that seem like they will never end, it is easy to feel as if God has forgotten about us. We feel this way because we believe God should have already solved the problem and eased the pain. Yet, the problem and pain continues, leaving us to conclude God has abandoned us.
2. We Struggle With Our Thoughts (Psalm 13:2).
Day after day we struggle with negative pessimistic thoughts because day after day the problem and pain continues. We continue to have questions in our minds. We continue to have thoughts of doubt. We have prayed. We have poured out our hearts to God. We have had faith. Yet, nothing changes. So we keep wondering if God has left us. We wonder if we will ever experience his provision. We wonder if we will ever experience his presence. We wonder if God's word is true. We may even wonder if God exists at all.
3. We Experience Depression (Psalm 13:2-3).
As our problems and pain continue, as we wrestle with all types of thoughts, depression begins to set into our hearts. Deep sadness begins to take over our lives. We feel no happiness. We feel no hope. We have no joy. This goes on day after day after day. This daily struggle with depression increases our questions. We wonder if this will ever end. Will we ever smile again? Will we ever feel the warmth of the sunshine? Will we ever see the beauty of the colors? Will we ever hear the birds sing their joyful tunes? We keep asking the same questions: "God, how long will this last?" "God, where are you?" "God, do you see me?" "God are you there?"
4. We Are Hurt By Others (Psalm 13:4).
For some reason, others may want to see us fail. The want to see us ultimately suffer loss. Their happiness is grounded in our hurts. In addition, they may be actually participating in our downfall. At the very least, if it is not a person or group of people wanting to see us fail or working so we will fail, we have an enemy, Satan, who wants to see us fail and works daily to that end.
5. We Know God Is Our Only Source of Hope (Psalm 13:3-4).
Even though we wonder if God has abandoned us, deep down we know our only hope is in him. We know if God does not bring light to our darkness, healing to our hurts, and solutions to our problems, we will stay in our depression, while others, or Satan himself, continue to work toward our destruction.
In the middle of our problems and pain, causing us to ask, "God, how long?", there are four choices we must make just as David did.
Choice #1: Choose To Pray Honestly To God During Our Pain And Problems (Psalm 13:1-6).
As we encounter ongoing problems accompanied by unanswered prayers, we will be tempted to turn away from God. Anger and bitterness toward God along with disillusionment with God will begin to replace the faith we once had in God. These are the times we need to be open and honest with God in prayer. Psalm 13 is a prayer from the heart of David when he was going through hard times and feeling like God had abandoned him. As he experienced difficulties in life and disillusionment with God, he talked with God about how he was feeling and what he was thinking. We must choose to be open and honest with God as David did.
Choice #2: Choose To Trust God's Love During Our Problems And Pain (Psalm 13:5a).
When we are going through difficult times, we must believe we are loved by God. It is easy to believe because our problems and pain continue, God doesn't love us. Yet, he loves us. Ultimately, like David, we can't allow our circumstances to determine if God loves us. Rather, just like David chose to believe he was loved by God, we must choose to believe we are loved by God, too.
Choice #3: Choose To Celebrate God's Provision During Our Problems And Pain (Psalm 13:5b).
Eventually, David chose to rejoice in God's deliverance before the deliverance ever came. By faith, we must celebrate that God will at some point deliver us from our problems and pain. And, even if he doesn't deliver us in the way we thought or when we thought, because he loves us, we must continue to trust him.
Choice #4: Choose To Focus On God's Goodness During Our Problems And Pain (Psalm 13:6).
No matter how bad the problems and pain get, we must choose to focus on how good God is. We cannot allow ourselves to measure God's goodness by the amount of pain and problems in our lives. God is good no matter how bad life gets. We must choose to believe this.
When we are in the middle of our problems and pain, it is difficult to believe God loves us, will provide for us, and is good. Our thoughts and emotions are telling us just the opposite. They are telling us that if God was loving and good, then he would provide. That is why we must choose to believe, despite what are thoughts and emotions are saying to us, that God is loving, good, and will provide for us.