O Lord, how long will you forget me?
How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle in my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat saying, “We have defeated him!”
Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.
But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.
While it was David who penned these eloquent words of mourning and praise, I have in recent weeks scribbled similar notes in my journal. They started out as the melancholy expressions of a heavy heart and ended as prayers to God praising who He is. These written thoughts and prayers were a reflection of my trudging through a momentary darkness in my life. Some of the days the biggest thing I did was get out of bed and get to work. Just that simple act was all I had in me. While I wasn’t being threatened to death by an enraged king nor fighting physical battles like David, my mental and emotional depression was real and just as much a battle I was fighting. The words of this psalm echoed the groaning of my heart as I slipped into a deep rut.
I’m writing this post, though in a much better mental state now, as an encouragement to those who resonate with the words of David. God is not afraid of your mental battle. He is not afraid of you fearing He forgot you. He is not afraid of your questions. He can handle your struggle. And He can help you handle it too.
God is not upset with your weakness. It has been awhile since I have been in such a fragile state of mind. I felt weak in so many different ways. But I take heart in the words of the Apostle Paul. When speaking of a thorn in his flesh he said, “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10) It is precisely our weakness that God works in and through. He’s not at a loss because you are weak.
God doesn’t require works for salvation. Please hear me out. You can’t have a true faith that doesn’t produce good works. True discipleship results in acting as Christ does. The closer your get to God, the more you grow to be like him. This is evidenced in the way you live. What I mean by this point is that God doesn’t like you simply because of what you do. This is for all my fellow type A personalities out there. For two weeks the thought of writing a blogpost made me cry. Then as those two Thursdays came and went, I felt more crushed by not posting. I felt I failed God. And while I have and unfortunately sometimes still do fail God in my sin, it’s not my blogposts or good deeds that make God love me and save me. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for thd good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Your salvation will never be earned. It is a loving gift from a loving Father.
God can handle your questions. Repeatedly we see in the Psalms hard questions for God. And if we’re honest, we repeatedly ask these questions to ourselves. We shouldn’t be afraid to question. Part of loving God with our minds is loving Him with our reason. And to come to reasonable answers we need to ask questions. God can handle our questions. He actually welcomes them. Jesus says in Matthew 7:7-8, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” We need to understand that this doesn’t mean God will grant us our every whim. But He will reveal Himself to us as we dive into Him. While we will die not knowing all there is to know about God as he is a Supreme Being and we are only finite humans who can’t fully conceptualize Him, there are answers to questions. We can dive into apologetics and theology. We need not have a blind faith.
God isn’t against you even if you always struggle. This is the point that has brought me the most comfort. This is the point that has gotten me out of bed with purpose even through the days that I didn’t feel like crawling out from under the covers. This thought has run through my mind as it usually does to all of us when we are in a period of darkness: “what if it never gets better?” Can God still be for me (Romans 8:31) even if I’m still struggling? As we saw in Paul talking about the thorn is his side (2 Corinthians 12:8-10), the answer is most assuredly yes. In Hebrews 11:39, the author recaps the fate of great faith heros of the Old Testament in saying, “All these people earned a good reputation for their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised.” All that God promised refers to Jesus Christ as the resurrected Savior. Clearly we do have that! Praise God! Yet, we still have a longing in us as we are not yet home. We live in a broken, fallen world. We yearn to be with our God. We haven’t reached the closeness of his presence in this life. We have yet to be fully rid of the weight of this world and in the presence of God. Still though, we can be content even if the pain and darkness persists. We can be like Paul yet again and say that we can be content in any situation because we “can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
God is worthy of praise. Always. It equally shocks me and comforts me as I read Psalms like Psalm 13 where the psalmist goes from mourning to praising in just a couple words. But isn’t this our key as Christians? While there is a time to mourn, there is also a time to take joy again (Ecclesiastes 3:4). We may not feel like it initially, but we need to praise God in our valleys as well as our mountain tops. Repeatedly throughout the Bible we see that God is always worthy of praise. John in Revelation 4:11 writes that the elders in heaven say, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things and they exist because you created what you pleased.” God deserves glory and praise simply because He is God and created all. This means in all situations and circumstances we are to praise. Psalm 150, a psalm of praise, says in verse 6, “Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!” Nothing says in the Bible that we only praise when we feel like it. We are simply to praise. And I truly believe that is key to us overcoming the struggles we face.
Life isn’t always easy. Some days it utterly crushing and unbearable. Sometimes we question why we’re in such an awful situation. But not all hope is lost. God hasn’t forgotten you or left you to do life on your own (unless you pushed Him away and chose to life on your own in which case He will respect your choice). We need to remember the truths we find throughout the Bible. We can look at Psalm 13 and know that we aren’t the only ones who struggle and hurt. The man after God’s own heart went through deep waters too. We can learn from him. We can be weak and failing and praising all at once. We can, by the grace of God, end our darkest days with praise.