Summary: A look at the path toward patience as we wait upon the Lord.
Last Sunday my family took a trip to Frankfurt to attend an international church there. Throughout the ride up all we heard from the children was: "are we there yet?" Or "how much longer?" or "are we ever going to get there?"
Did you ever notice that those kinds of questions never come when the kids are having a great time?
After church we took the kids to the Opel Zoo, do you know they never once asked "How much longer?" "Are we done yet?" "Can we go home now"?
"Are We There Yet" is a question for the hard times.
Even though I doubt that King David had ever gone on a road trip in a car with children, he captures the essence of that question remarkably well in the first line of Psalm 13, "How Long, O Lord?"
Now I know that that’s a question none of you have probably ever asked, but it’s a question that I’ve asked the Lord a few times recently. So I’m going to preach to myself this morning and just maybe what the Lord has to say to me through His word will speak to some of you also.
As we read the remainder of Psalm 13 I think we’ll find that what David has recorded is a process, a change in his attitude and thinking as He waits upon the Lord. A path upward, out of Despair and into Hope and Trust. But David begins that journey at a place where probably all of us have been and a place that perhaps some of us are right now. David is…
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
One of the great lessons of the Psalms that David writes is that it is OK to be honest with God about how we feel. God already knows and it doesn’t really make sense to try to hide it from Him. Intimacy with Him means opening up our hearts.
David faced many trials in his life. Perhaps he wrote this psalm during the time that he was on the run from King Saul--though he knew God had a plan for his life, it seemed to be on hold and he was living as a refuge. Maybe it was written as he experienced the sting of God’s displeasure with him after he had sinned so terribly by taking another man’s wife.
Whenever he wrote it, it’s a striking picture of a frustrated heart crying out again and again how long, how long, how long and once more how long.
Phillips Brooks was a great New England preacher of another age, he was known as a man of great his poise and quiet manner. At times, however, even he had his moments. One day a friend saw him feverishly pacing the floor like a caged lion. "What’s the trouble, Mr. Brooks?" he asked.
"The trouble is that I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t!"
In the early years of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln became so angered at the inactivity of Union commander George McClellan that the president wrote his commanding general this one-sentence letter: "If you don’t want to use the army, I should like to borrow it for a while. Respectfully, A. Lincoln." (Today in the Word, July 18, 1993.)
And the Psalm writer, David said, "How Long, Oh Lord." Maybe you’re asking that same question this morning. It’s OK to ask. But we can’t live in that place. I think that David realized that and so he moved on from pure complaint to the next level of waiting. From Stewing to…
Verses 2-3 Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
We could say that this is a move from petulance to prayer. At this point he’s not merely complaining but really reaching out to God for answers. He knows he can’t stay stewing forever, He says, God I need to know you’re there. I need you to give me some understanding or I’ll die.
Maybe you’ve felt that way too. But my Bible says that God has a secret weapon in these circumstances, he offers a peace that passes understanding
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
If we can learn to reach out to God from the valley, He promises peace to us, a peace that doesn’t even require understanding because we know we can trust the Lord. There’s an old song by Ira Stanphill that sums it up this way: "Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand, but I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand."