One of the things Bryan mentioned in yesterday’s message was coming to a place in life where a detour seems to have become the new reality, at least for a season. These are the kinds of moments when we feel a sense of disappointment in the way life is turning out, the moments when we long, even ache, for deliverance and resolution–for an answer from God to our flood of prayers. Yet none seems to be coming.
What do we do in these moments?
I Got This
For me, at times, these moments of grieving and aching lead to anger or frustration at the unrelenting nature of these trials. Or they lead me to turn from trusting and asking the Lord for help to looking for self-made solutions like yelling at women and children, half-baked concoctions, or even “noble” resignation. Sound familiar?
Another Way Forward
But there is another way to respond, a way that doesn’t hide from the reality of the agony, yet meets it with faith and resolve. We see this response in Psalm 69.
Psalm 69.1-3 gives a pretty clear and easily identifiable picture of desperation aching for resolution. Most of us can identify with these words. Take a second to inhale them. Verses 4-12 give more description of the situation, and then we come to verse 13:
“But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.”
Psalm 69.13 is a treasure chest. It’s a gift of insight for those who are hurting. This verse is worth a whole sermon, but I see three quick things that model for us how to respond to a seemingly incomprehensible set of circumstances with honest heartache AND faith at the same time.
He mentions the love of God, that it is steadfast, and that there is an abundance of it.
He says that answers from God come from this place of abundant steadfast love.
He mentions that God is faithful and adds another term to it: saving faithfulness. His is a kind of faithfulness that rescues.
His is a kind of faithfulness that rescues.
So in these things I think we see two clear things:
A High View of God
In aching detour kinds of moments, our view of God often falters, thinking that he doesn’t care, isn’t as loving as we thought, or doesn’t have a plan after all. We doubt him. But the picture David gives us is a high view of God, even in the midst of incomprehensible circumstances that threaten to drown his heart (v. 1-3). His understanding of God is not overwhelmed by his present circumstances.
Confidence in God
Even though life seems like it’s more than he can handle, David is confident that God can and will save. His confidence in God comes from his high view of God, so his confidence in God is not overwhelmed by his present circumstances.
We also see a third stance toward God that balances David’s heart. This is often the piece that is lacking when we accuse God or grow angry when our trials refuse to relent. Without this piece we often demand that God act (in a particular way) and hold him in contempt when he doesn’t.
It is up to God to act.
We see David’s high view of God (that God can act) and his confidence in God (that he will act), but we also see submission to God: it is up to God to act. God is not on David’s payroll or his timetable. God’s plans are not subject to David’s approval. God is the active agent and the only God in the relationship. David knows that and accordingly says, “My God, when it seems right to you, act.”
How do we ask God for things AND submit to his plans?
I often hear, or think myself, that assuming a submissive position means we can’t ask God for things, only that we ask for his will to be done. But if we keep reading in verse 14 and following we see the exact opposite. David asks specifically and thoroughly for God to change things dramatically, and that’s exactly what we should do. So how can we ask thoroughly and boldly, with a submissive heart, not accusing God when he doesn’t respond like we think he should?
How can we ask thoroughly and boldly, with a submissive heart, not accusing God when he doesn’t respond like we think he should?
Do we really know him?
I think the answer to this question lies at the heart of verse 13. If we know (not just think or hope, but know with confidence and from experience) that God is abundant in steadfast love and that he answers with saving faithfulness, our hearts are freed to trust him even when life doesn’t make sense to us. This is where we make conscious decisions to lean into the gospel, choosing to trust God because of what he has already done in sending Jesus.
As we learn to see God through the lens of what he has demonstrated to us in the gospel more than through the lens of our circumstances, our hearts slowly begin to trust him.
As we learn to see God through the lens of what he has demonstrated to us in the gospel more than through the lens of our circumstances, our hearts slowly begin to trust him. That doesn’t take away the pain or aching of ongoing trials, and God doesn’t want us to pretend that it does. He’s big enough to handle our honesty in pain and disillusion. But it does produce endurance, character, and ultimately hope, and hope will not put us to shame (Romans 5.3-5).
So where is your hope? Is it in God or in your circumstances?