Friday, December 19, 2014

Where is God in My Suffering? Tempted to Throw a Pity Party.

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.
~Psalm 13:1-6

I love the honest questions the psalmist asks God. Questions that we ourselves have probably asked God in our time of tribulation or testing. The are honest, vulnerable, and real questions that a human being would ask. We can learn from the Psalms.

How the Psalms Help Us  It is okay to ask these tough questions to God. He desires our all in our love toward Him. To give someone your all is to give them the good and the bad. Our closest friends are the ones we can be completely honest with and that is what God wants from us in our relationship with Him.

This Psalmist asks the hard questions then waits in dependence on God because he knows that nothing but God can intervene in this dire situation. God is sovereign and can change circumstances but more than changing circumstances He is into changing hearts. Trials are the fires that burn the dullness from us, and if we are trained by them they make us stronger and more Christ-like.

Though the Psalmist does not know the outcome of the trial, he depends on God by pouring forth his heart to the One he can trust. Then affirming it with, "BUT I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation."

Sometimes we miss the BUT. We cry out but don't focus on how God is working all things together for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28-29) instead we focus on the immediate circumstances and lose sight of eternity. Every trial is working a glory that is eternally weighty (2 Corinthians 4:17).

How We Lose Sight of Eternity
We forget the BUT and dwell on thoughts that lean into despair:
No one understands us.
They cannot even imagine what our life is like. 

They don't even care about me.
If they could only see what it is like to be me.
If they knew the sacrifice I made just to get to here...

The enemy of our souls is roaring around like a lion looking for someone he can devour (1 Peter 5:8). He will help you entertain these thoughts of self-pity and self-righteousness. Don't give him a foothold for sins of anger or bitterness. Be mindful of this and take those thoughts captive like an enemy and crucify them, make them obedient to Christ. He is the end in mind (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Focus on the BUT
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.

God's love for us is unstoppable. It is unchangeable. It is eternal. We must trust this and force our minds, hearts, and souls to focus on that truth in our trials.

It is true, we do have it harder when we live with disabilities. It is something that someone in our shoes cannot understand and it is okay because God gave us a different path. Yet God understands. He endured the cross for our sufferings. He is familiar with our grief. He is with us in it. He went before us so that we could have an eternal hope in our sorrows.

The end of this Psalm, though the trial has not subsided, the Psalmist decides to sing to the Lord because of His goodness. God has dealt bountifully with all of us. We have no reason to doubt His goodness toward us, even in trials.

We have been given a greater privilege than the Psalmist. Where the Psalmist was looking forward to an unseen Savior, we get to look back at the seen Savior. We get to prepare our hearts for the celebration of His birth in just a few days. Let us make our minds focus on those things we can be thankful for. He loved us so much that He gave up all of His glory and splendor of Heaven, put flesh on, took on the ability to feel pain like us. He didn't have to but He chose to because of love. What an incredible gift. Let us keep our minds fixed there and learn from the Psalmist when we feel tempted toward self-focus.

Father, thank you for sending the Son to us. Thank you for the resurrection. Thank you for preparing a place for us. Thank you that you are coming back for us. Thank you that these present trials are preparing an eternal weight of glory. Lord let us glorify you in everything we do. In Jesus Name. Amen.

~Angela Parsley

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