Like the Psalmist in Psalm 13, I went through an especially dark time in my life when I felt God had forgotten me.
I wrestled with my thoughts day and night and lived with a sorrow that woke me in the dark of night and haunted me all day through.
It took many months before I realized that I could trust God's unfailing love and rejoice in my salvation even though my situation remained the same.
In fact, I learned I could rejoice if my situation never changed.
One of the purposes of the Psalms is to show us how to honestly cry out in our pain, even when we feel forgotten and helpless.
The key to finding peace in difficulty is remembering the character of God and basing our faith on His character, not our circumstances.
Like the troubled Psalmist we can always say, "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." Psalm 13:5-6
1. Read Psalm 13 and ponder the feelings of the Psalmist and the way he brings himself back to the reality of faith in God.
Psalm 13 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? 3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, 4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. 5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
2. Sometimes Christians think that God will protect them from all difficulty, but the Gospel is full of people who loved God wholeheartedly, yet suffered greatly. How do these verses speak to the suffering Christian?
1 Peter 1:3-9: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 4:12-13: Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
John 16:33: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Please complete the study before reading these insights
1. Psalm 13: You won't understand these verses unless you have truly wrestled with your thoughts. The Psalmist feels forgotten, invisible to God. But he brings himself back to reality by reminding himself of God's character and promising to praise God. You frequently find this "formula" for overcoming despair in the Psalms. And it works.
Philippians 4:8 tells us "whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Our thoughts influence our actions and attitudes, and the Psalmist knows this so he climbs out of his pit of despair by reminding himself of God's loving character and power.
2. 1 Peter 1:3-9: We are shielded by God's power, but this doesn't mean we won't suffer "all kinds of trials" here on earth. But our trials are never in vain. They refine our faith when we do as the Psalmist and focus on the goodness of God instead of our circumstances. And the inexpressible joy of knowing Jesus for eternity is more than enough to overcome the sorrow and pain of our temporary difficulties on earth.
1 Peter 4:12-13: We shouldn't be surprised by suffering because our Lord suffered. John 16:33: And we shouldn't be surprised because Christ warned us we would have troubles in this world.
copyright 2014, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
All Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted