All of us face difficult, even overwhelming, challenges in our lives. How do we hold to our faith in hard times?
Leviticus, chapters 18-19; Psalm 13; Acts, chapter 19
Psalm 13 (CEB):
How long will you forget me, Lord? Forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long will I be left to my own wits, agony filling my heart? Daily? How long will my enemy keep defeating me?
Look at me! Answer me, Lord my God! Restore sight to my eyes! Otherwise, I’ll sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, “I won!” My foes will rejoice over my downfall.
But I have trusted in your faithful love. My heart will rejoice in your salvation. Yes, I will sing to the Lord because he has been good to me.
Faith in Hard Times
We don’t know what situation in David’s life prompted him to write this psalm. The fact is that it’s not really important. However, the emotions that David expresses in this psalm speak to every one of us at some point in our lives. We feel that the Lord has forgotten us, and is not listening to our prayers. Our enemy mocks us, telling us that God doesn’t care. He tempts us to turn to our own wits, to try to figure out the answer ourselves. We come to the place that we believe that if God doesn’t do something, we’re doomed. I’ll sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, “I won!”
As I said, the particular circumstances are not important. What seems like a trifle to you may seem like an overwhelming burden to me. But we all face these sorts of trials in our lives. The key is, what do we do about it? How do we trust our faith in those hard times? David tells us: by reminding ourselves of God’s faithfulness. Those of us who walk with the Lord can look back over our lives and find those places where God undeniably acted for us. Instead of saying, “What have you done for me lately?” we proclaim our trust in God.
In verse 5, David says, But I have trusted in your faithful love. My heart will rejoice in your salvation. “I have trusted” is a reminder of the past; “my heart will rejoice” is an expression of faith. No matter what I’m going through right now, God will deliver me. That’s what his faithful love is all about. God will follow through on every promise – and he has promised to save us and be with us always. And as David’s thoughts turn away from his problems and back toward God’s faithful love, he responds in faith: I will sing to the Lord, because he has been good to me.
Application: Faith in Hard Times
Too often, we want to compare our hard times with those others are facing. We need to recognize that’s Satan at work. What good could come from it? Minimizing the problems that others face doesn’t help them or us. Such thoughts harden our hearts against our brothers and sisters. Additionally, we become unwilling to receive comfort or strength from others, because “they have no idea what I’m facing.”
Because we’re unique individuals, the combination of factors and circumstances of our lives are different. But the basic storyline is the same. Deep down, we realize that we are unable to cope with everything that life throws at us. Do we fall into despair, or do we turn to the One who can cope? As the author of Hebrews reminds us, “Let’s hold on to the confession since we have a great high priest who passed through the heavens, who is Jesus, God’s Son; because we don’t have a high priest who can’t sympathize with our weaknesses but instead one who was tempted in every way that we are, except without sin” (Hebrews 4:14-15.)
The promise is not only for “sympathy and understanding.” No, God promises us help. The author of Hebrews concludes his thought in chapter 4 this way: “Finally, let’s draw near to the throne of favor with confidence so that we can receive mercy and find grace when we need help.” (Hebrews 4:16). Receive mercy and find grace. That’s how we have faith in hard times!
Father, thank you for reminding us that we can find mercy and grace at your throne. When we feel that things are caving in on us, help us to turn our attention toward you. Show us your faithful love. Remind us what you have done for us in the past. Help us to have faith in the hard times be remembering your great love for us. Amen.