Today’s Bible readings can be found here: Psalm 13:1-6 and 1 John 4:13-21.
Psalm 13: 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? (NIV)
Do you ever have trouble sleeping at night because you have too many thoughts rattling through your head? Do you go through days when your heart is hurt and heavy because someone wounded or disappointed you? Do you have moments when you want to pack everything all in because your problems are overwhelming and you can’t focus on any one of them? Me, too – welcome to the real world.
Psalm 13 is one of the shortest songs in the whole Bible but it contains so much truth and relevance that I find myself returning to it repeatedly, especially when I have personal issues. The words appeal to me because of the boldness of the author – this is someone who knows trouble and needs to vent to God about it. It’s a hymn of complaint which we call a lament – the writer has been deeply hurt and wonders why God hasn’t done anything to remedy the situation or deal with the problem. There is an initial element of disappointment in his words as if the psalmist is saying to God “I have placed all of my faith in You, so why aren’t You sticking up for me? Why aren’t You helping me to overcome my foes and clear up this messy situation, God?”
This is why I love the Book of Psalms – the candid complaints and painful protests are very human and clearly directed toward God. God’s inactivity is bewildering; His indifference is frustrating; His forgetfulness is almost infuriating. The psalmist feels let down and depressed, isolated and vulnerable. He cannot find peace, happiness, or hope. He struggles with his dilemma and he wrestles with God. Do you know that feeling? Me, too.
In the end, the songwriter surrenders himself to God’s will. In a remarkable leap of faith, he decides to remain connected to the Lord. No matter what happens, he trusts God completely – the psalmist has vented his spleen and voiced his complaint. He now leaves it in God’s hands and aims instead to praise God for past blessings. This is not fair-weathered or a convenient faith; this is hard-to-endure and on-the-edge faith. This is what it truly means to believe in God.
Points to ponder: What is presently troubling me? What issues am I experiencing? Have I complained to God? Am I willing to leave my problems in His hands? Do I still want to praise Him?
Prayer: Lord God, You know us completely and fully understand the worries that weary us and the problems that presently burden us. Give us the will to hand them all over to You. Allow us the blessing of praising You in both good and bad times. In Christ’s Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to give some feedback or ask questions about today’s message, please send John an email to Traqair@aol.com.
Today’s image is one of John’s Bible drawings of Psalm 13. If you would like to view a larger version, click here.