Theme: Turning the Corner
In this week’s lessons we are reminded that although there are times when we might feel abandoned by God, we must persevere in prayer in order to enjoy the sense of God’s presence once again.
Scripture: Psalm 13:1-6
At the end of the psalm David has obviously gotten to the point of recovering a sense of God’s presence. He says that he is trusting in the Lord’s unfailing love, rejoicing in the Lord’s salvation and looking forward to the day when he will again sing to the Lord of his goodness. How did David get to this position? I touched on this when I was giving the outline of this psalm earlier. The turning point was prayer.
When all things seem against us,To drive us to despair,We know one gate is openOne ear will hear our prayer.
Let me suggest that for the true child of God there is always some awareness of this truth, regardless of how deep his or her depression may be. We may be depressed even to the point of feeling utterly abandoned. But the fact that we feel abandoned itself means that we really know God is there. Otherwise, it would not be abandonment we would be feeling. To be abandoned you need somebody to be abandoned by. The fact that we feel abandoned shows that we still believe in God. Moreover, because we are Christians and have been taught by God in Scripture, we know that God is still loving and faithful to us, regardless of our feelings.
So what do we do? We pray, as David does. This does not exclude seeking help professionally if our depression is severe. We often need help in order to hang on and begin to work through our dark feelings. But above all, we need to pray. We need to pray consistently and urgently, especially about our feelings of abandonment.
This is what David does. His prayer has three requests in it: 1) “Look on me”; 2) “Answer”; and 3) “Give light to my eyes.” His feelings are telling him that God has turned away from him, hiding his face. So the first thing he asks God to do is turn around and look in his direction once again. His feelings are telling him that God is no longer speaking to him and will never speak again. So the second thing he asks God to do is answer his questions. His feelings have told him that all is lost and that his enemy will triumph, no doubt meaning that his enemy will eventually succeed in killing him. So he asks God to give light to his eyes, that is, to preserve him and restore him to full physical and mental health again.
And God does, at least to this extent. David recovers his trust in God and looks forward to the day when he will be able fully to praise him for his goodness. H. C. Leupold says at this point, “Faith has climbed out of the lowest depths of despair where it had well-nigh perished into the full sunlight of godly hope.” Now “it can wait for the help to come, for it is sure that it will not fail him.”7
I close with two scenes from the book of Revelation. In chapter 6 the souls of those who were martyred for their testimony and are now with God in heaven cry out, “How long, sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood” (Rev. 6:9)? These saints are distressed at God’s seeming reluctance to act. Yet although these are the souls of martyrs, they are told to be patient, to wait “a little longer.” If they can be asked to be patient, we obviously can be asked to be patient too.
The second scene comes at the end of the book. Here the saints are also longing for the end, yearning for the return of Christ, who seems to be far from them. His words are: “Yes, I am coming soon,” to which they reply, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).
If you are suffering from a sense of feeling abandoned by God, which we have been studying, I cannot tell you when the emotional oppression will lift. But it will lift. The curtain of your despair will rise, and behind the veil you will see the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, who has been
with you and has loved you all the time.
What is David’s tone at the end of Psalm 13? How does he accomplish this?
How do the scenes described in Rev. 6 and 22 provide encouragement for the suffering?
Application: How does David’s response provide instruction and comfort in your own trials?
For Further Study: Others in Scripture knew what it was to feel despair in the midst of great troubles. Download for free and listen to James Boice’s message from the life of Jacob, “No One Loves Me, This I Know.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)
7H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 136.