Prays Together: From Despair to Joy
By Jim Newman
Some people may describe despair as having arrived too late at the mall to purchase the Black Friday items they wanted so desperately, (or maybe having not been able to find a parking spot). Yet, for some, it means having lost their home and possessions in one of the fires that decimated California these past few weeks, or worse, having lost a loved one in a fire or in one of the mass shootings that have taken place recently. Whatever struggles you may be dealing with in your life, the result can sometimes be despair and feelings of hopelessness; and for some, depression.
Sometimes those situations can cause you to feel forsaken by God, to question whether He really cares about you. That seems to be what David was struggling with in Psalm 13. Four times in the first two verses he says, “how long?” as he expresses the depth of his distress. “O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy (whoever or whatever that might be) have the upper hand?” (Psalm 13:1,2, New Living Translation).
David expressed his feelings to God like one might do with a friend who listens, encourages, and tries to help us find hope. David found strength as he expressed his honest feelings to the Lord, and then asked Him for help. He prayed, “Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the light to my eyes, or I will die,” (Psalm 13:3). In prayer we, too, can cry out to God for help.
In the last two verses of the psalm we see the joy and hope that Dave found as He poured out his heart to the Lord. “But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because He has been so good to me,” (Psalm 13:5,6).
Note three things which David did which can help us toward joy, even in our struggles: First, David focused on God and what He is like. He trusted in the fact that God is a God of “steadfast love (mercy, kindness).” When you pray, remember that God loves and cares for you. Trust Him in the midst of your struggles. He may not always change the circumstances, but He can change you! Second, His heart rejoiced that God was at work in his life. He saw that it was the Lord who would rescue him.
The Lord was his salvation. Finally, David had a song in his heart as he realized all that the lord had done in his life. He saw that the Lord, as one translation puts it, “had dealt bountifully” with him.
Habakkuk, an Old Testament prophet, recounted all the many things that had gone wrong in his life and the lives of God’s people. He said, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights,” (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NIV).