I’m going to be honest: it’s been a hard couple of weeks. Patience has been really tough! As much as I have really enjoyed focusing on the different Bible characters, I have found it a difficult week. I know from the Mummy Meditations Facebook group that others have found the same thing.
That’s the thing about patience: it’s a very important thing to learn, but it takes courage and determination to ask God to teach you patience.
I think David knew this. I think he had to learn patience, and that’s what’s happening in Psalm 13, which has been our focus this week, particularly verse one: How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
A bit about the context
We don’t know when David wrote this psalm. It may have been before he became king. It may have been while he was king. It may well have been during one of those times of suffering and hardship, when it seemed like God had forgotten David. Don’t forget that Samuel had anointed David to be king while David was still a young boy, yet David didn’t become king for many, many years. David must have felt like God had abandoned him while he waited to become king of Israel.
David also had times as King when he felt God had abandoned him. His kingdom was at war for years. He displeased God by committing adultery with Bathsheba. His child died.
So yes, David had to learn patience. But we also know that David was a ‘man after God’s own heart,’ and was a man who brought peace and prosperity to Israel. He was a good king.
Patience when you feel abandoned
So David was a very human king. We see this so clearly in this verse: How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
It can often feel like God has forgotten us. Sometimes, we cry out in desperation, “How long?” We can have to wait days, months, years… Every single one of the characters we have studied has had to wait for years for their prayers to be answered. Hannah waited for a child; Abraham waited for God’s promises to be fulfilled; Joseph waited for freedom; David waited to become king.
We know that time is immaterial for God. He does things in his own time. But that’s not very reassuring when you’re waiting for a difficult situation to end.
I think we see from this verse that it’s ok to question God. It’s ok to rage in desperation. God does hear our cried and our pleas. So if you’re feeling abandoned, cry out to God. It’s ok!
Patience when God is silent
I think it’s interesting – and, in a way, reassuring – that even David, who was so close to God, feels that God has hidden his face from him. David is pursuing God, and God doesn’t seem to be responding.
I have times like that. Yes, I have times when I feel that God is speaking to me really clearly, and I have times when… nothing. The fact that David felt and heard nothing too gives me a bit of encouragement: God was silent at times with David, and look at what a good king David was.
Rachel pointed out that this verse reminds her of the ‘Footprints in the Sand’ poem by Mary Stevenson. You can find the full version of the poem at the Official Site . The idea is that when we thought God had abandoned us, actually He is carrying us through the difficult times. Looking back, we can see God’s hand on David all the way through his waiting and his difficult time as King. He was learning to become the best king he could be.
Sometimes, it’s only when we look back that we can see God’s hand on difficult situations. We can see what we’ve learned, and how God has used this experience to help us to draw closer to him or to support others.
Praising through patience
The verses I really love in this Psalm actually come at the end: But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
Despite God’s silence, David keeps praising. He keeps his mind focused on what is important: God’s unfailing love and His salvation. Love and Salvation. The most important parts of our faith.
When we’re facing testing times, it can be really, really hard to praise God. The words of worship songs can stick in our throats. We cannot see the point. Sometimes, we can only see the negatives.
It takes an act of will to remind ourself of the essentials: God’s love and God’s salvation. We have to actively speak them out. We have to remind ourselves of what God has done for us in the past.
Practical steps towards patience
- Remind yourself of the essentials: God’s love and God’s salvation. Nothing is more important than that.
- Keep praying. All of our characters kept praying. They were persistent in prayer. They cried out to God and He heard them.
- Keep serving. They all served God where they were at and in the waiting.
- Keep dreaming, and cling to God’s promises. Even if they seem ridiculously unlikely to happen.
- Ask God for His strength. I’m adding this one in because it has been my experience this week. I’ve been so busy and so overwhelmed and so over-committed to things that I had to simply ask God for His strength, as I couldn’t do it alone.
- Be encouraged that you will be rewarded. In each of the stories we’ve looked at, the characters were rewarded beyond what they could imagine. Be encouraged, and ask your friends and family to encourage you. The waiting is hard. It makes it easier if others are standing with you.
Phew, patience has been hard. But we’re moving on to kindness next, and Rachel is so excited about it! Next week’s verse is Acts 28:2: The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.
After Storm Doris this week, I think we can all appreciate that one!