Monday, April 16, 2007

Model for Trust

The book of Psalms is rich with praise in good times and bad. Even in psalms of lament, which were written during times of extreme personal distress, the psalmist concludes on a positive note, expressing hope and faith in the goodness of God.

Our Monday morning group looked at Psalm 13 today. It's a terse but powerful psalm of lament that finds David crying to God at a time of dire affliction (13:3). We're not told the outcome here of David's situation. But as we analyze this psalm in three parts, we do get a window into David's relationship with God and his approach to prayer:

  • David cries out
  • He begs for help
  • He expresses trust in God

So the trust precedes the resolution here. It didn't take an immediate response from God to elicit good feelings about God on the part of the suffering psalmist. How is this possible? David knows God. He intimately understands God's just and merciful nature. It's this faith that sustains him during periods of angst.

What can we learn from this?

  • Suffering is inevitable. We can ponder all sorts of philosophical "why's" as we try and wrap our minds around the things we really don't understand, but the desparate heart cry "Why me?" makes less sense to me today. Though there were times I bitterly asked that very question, I see increasingly that suffering to varying degrees is a normative experience of life. I can appreciate intimately the pain behind the question. But if you read the Bible you will find timeless precedent for heartache, illness, injustice, persecution, and every imaginable indirect and direct causitive affliction associated with every imaginable kind of sin. Bad things sometimes happen to bad people. Bad things sometimes happen to good people. It is the nature of life in a fallen world.
  • When trouble strikes, we are to call out to God.
  • We are to pray to God candidly and specifically. As one of my friends said this morning, David is real with God. He's unplugged and honest.
  • Have Bible-based expectations. God is not a concierge. He responds in His time according to His purpose. There will be periods we call out to God and hear our own echo. There is precedent for this. Periods of "silence" don't indicate that God has abandoned us. We are called to have faith in the quiet times, knowing He hasn't gone anywhere. I'm reminded of a particularly heated debate on a theological topic last year during my online course with Dr. Kreider. Several of us went back and forth on a challenging issue. At one point, someone wrote "Where's Dr. Kreider, anyway?" His response came within the hour: "I'm right here." He had been tracking the debate very closely but refrained from solving the problem for us because he knew we'd be better off having worked it ourselves. And, in retrospect, we certainly were. So trust in the quiet spaces.
  • Be ever grateful for the goodness of God. Close your eyes and paint a synthetic picture of all that you know about God from Scripture, creation, history and tradition, and your own Christian experience. Anyway you paint it, it's the portrait of indescribable majesty and holiness.
  • Know that there's good that can come from time spent in the quiet spaces. I'm reminded of an old sitcom from many years ago: Father Knows Best. We must trust that, no matter what, indeed He does.

Blaring on my I-Pod... nothing! What am I missing?

(Pic by denial_land; for restrictions, see:


Dawn said...

Hi Sarah, I just stumbled across your blog this weekend and want to let you know how it touches my spirit. I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your comments on this Psalm. So often Christians focus on the good and expect God to make everything all right immediately. While this is not always so, we can trust Him to work what is best for our lives. That is something I am still learning to do.

I would love to continue to visit your blog and learn from your insight. Thank you.

Sarah Onderdonk said...

Dawn, thank you for visiting & I appreciate your feedback. I heard about the Virginia Tech shootings shortly after I posted this. It's beyond our ability to grasp, isn't it? This unbelievable individual and collective grief. Our mortal minds want to somehow make sense of it... to understand why... but we simply can't. All we can do, as you said, is "trust Him."