how long, o Lord? will you forget me forever?
how long will you hide your face from me?
how long must i take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
how long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
consider and answer me, o Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest i sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “i have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because i am shaken.
but i have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
i will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
when it feels like God is hiding his face, it is easy to look at our own faces. but that is when things spiral. we become anxious, troubled, and fearful, because we know that we cannot handle our pain by ourselves. yet it is a terrifying feeling when you think the One who can handle your pain has abandoned you.
there is an emphasis on the word, “feeling.” we know the truth- God describes himself to moses as a God of steadfast, “hesed” love… his lovingkindness, his redemptive love abounds for a thousand generations. he is merciful and gracious. he is slow to anger, despite our constant running from him (exodus 34:6). he promises to never leave us nor forsake us.
so we know the truth, but do we believe it?
Lord, we believe… help our unbelief.
Jesus resonates with us in this. on the cross, ridden with the worst physical and emotional pain ever experienced, Jesus cried aloud to God, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
i would argue that this is the worst kind of pain: being forsaken by God. but Jesus knew what was to come: dwelling with God and his people forever.
how can the psalmist trust in God’s steadfast love when his enemies are causing him great pain? when he feels abandoned by his creator?
by looking eternally.
david first addresses his pain. he mourns his situation. he laments. but he does it all with God, even when he is uncertain about God’s presence. that is faith.
i believe that sometimes God uses supposed silence to ensure that we seek him more than merely searching for relief from our pain. God is a relational God. he yearns for relationship with you. he is not just a genie that gives you everything your heart desires straight away. waiting on the Lord becomes beautiful when we look eternally at God’s salvation of our souls instead of looking for relief from our circumstances.
read that again: waiting on the Lord becomes beautiful when we look eternally at God’s salvation of our souls instead of looking for relief from our circumstances.
what are you searching for in your pain? you are invited to sit at Jesus’ feet today, sharing your pain, but laying it at his feet. looking at Jesus and what he has done for you can help you to do what psalm 31:24 commands in the wait:
“be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!”
courage in the midst of pain cannot be found by looking at ourselves in a mirror, but looking eternally to Jesus. and he welcomes you to do so today.