Psalm 13 and Patience

Yesterday my pastor’s sermon came from Psalm 13, a six-verse Psalm in which King David cries out in despair to God.  Here it is in its entirety, from the King James Version (c/o Bible Hub):

1{To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.} How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?

2How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?

3Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;

4Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

5But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.

6I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

The title of the sermon was “What Do You Do When God Delays?”  The whole point was that we’re always eager for answers and results now, and our tolerance for what we perceive to be as delays is pitifully short.

Of course, God isn’t delaying—He’s on His timetable, not ours.  When everything is going well, we don’t think about it, but when things go wrong, we’re often desperate for life to return to normality; if it doesn’t do so immediately, we get impatient with God.

My pastor used two biblical figures to illustrate the kind of godly patience we should embody:  David during the fifteen-year period when King Saul was hunting him, and Job.  It’s clear from Psalm 13 that David felt that God had forsaken him in his darkest hour, but the coda—verses 5-6—see David restating his faith in God, and that he knows God has not abandoned him.

For Job, my pastor noted that while he had no idea why he was covered in festering sores and had lost everything, he continued to pray to and praise God.  Job is perhaps one of the most challenging books of the Bible (it takes patience just to get through its forty-two chapters) because Job’s model is nearly superhuman—God allowed the Devil to ruin Job in every way conceivable, and Job still worshiped Him.

David and Job were titans of faith, to be sure; by comparison, most of us—myself very much included—can’t tolerate extended discomfort or uncertainty.  Gavin McInnes wrote in his autobiography The Death of Cool that white people can endure anything, so long as they know how long it will last.  He wrote that in reference to sitting in a sweat lodge with his Native American in-laws, and just when he thought their chanting was finally about to end, they’d start up with another lengthy round.

I’ve found that to be true, but God seldom lets us in on how long the trial will last.  Much like McInnes among his in-laws, we have to place our faith in Him to see us through, even when it feels like we’re abandoned and alone.

I have to remind myself of this fact constantly.  Some months ago I was literally crying out to God, angrily demanding of Him why He didn’t seem to be doing anything about the wickedness in our society.  It has since occurred to me that in a godless nation that has rejected Him, God’s judgment isn’t going to be something we much want to endure.  We’ve been killing babies for decades with impunity; embracing every form of sexual deviancy; and perverting His Word for our own twisted ends.

Perhaps The Virus is a form of God’s judgment against our nation.  If so, we’re getting off comparatively easy compared to some of the punishments the ancient Israelites endured for their disobedience.  Regardless, our best response to The Virus—and all troubles—is to praise God, and to accept that we may be in it for the long haul.

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