When It Feels Like God Forgot You
“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, ESV)
Anyone ever felt forgotten by the Lord?
Don’t worry, if you're sitting there with both hands and a foot in the air, I’m right there with you.
And so was David. David felt forgotten by God. He felt like God had completely withdrawn from him; like no matter how long or loud he cried out for the Lord to hear him, he was still met with dead silence. David had been without God’s counsel for so long that he felt like he had to start turning to
himself for answers, which only resulted in more sorrow in his heart.
Yes, even David, the man after God’s own heart– the King of Israel and one of the biggest names of the Bible– felt himself living outside of open communication with the Lord. Even David felt the deep sadness of having known the Lord and His love and still walking through a season of not feeling the closeness of His presence.
When we feel that distance from God, it feels like everything come crashing down. We feel our enemies closing in, we feel our loved ones turning on us, and we feel completely inadequate for our battles. I know personally, I can both empathize with and be encouraged by David. Reading his story, it seems like everything came easy for him like the Lord just made things more doable for David. He killed a bear and a lion before killing Goliath. For a while, he was favored by the man he would replace as king, playing music in the courts he would one day rule over. Even in the wilderness, David found people that believed in his cause and kept him focused on what the Lord always promised was ahead.
And still, David found himself in situations where God’s grace seemed far and impossible. David knew what it was like to feel his enemy at the door, rejoicing in the fact that he had finally been brought low.
And if you find yourself in this same spiritually disheartening moment, then take heart in the fact that David also set an example on how to cope.
In the final two verses of this short psalm, David says this, “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” (verses 5-6).
In other words, despite the fact that all these other things could be going on, David still knew and trusted in the fact that the Lord had not changed. Even though he felt the Lord was far from him, he knew in his heart that God wasn’t far at all. And here’s what you can do in this same struggle: David thanked God for his salvation.
Because even through all the turmoil, even when David thought everything was being stripped away from him, there was one thing that the Lord gave him that no man could take away– his salvation.
How many times do we go into this ‘woe is me’ mode? How many times do we question God and shake our fist at Him? In those times where it’s difficult to see His blessing or His hand at work, there is always one thing we can turn around and praise Him for. We can rejoice over the fact that God saved us in the first place. We can praise Him for all the times He proved Himself to be a good God. We can thank Him for having dealt bountifully with us in the past.
That’s how we can turn our spirit around. And yes, I won’t lie; tomorrow may not look any different. It may still be as dark as today and the Lord might feel far from you still, but there is a moment's respite found in the fact that He was faithful before and the fact that He will be faithful again. No matter how hopeless this moment feels, there is comfort found in the fact that you are still saved. There is hope found in the fact that you have known and experienced His deep love and rich joy.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11, ESV)
Remember: it’s not on our perfect days where our faith is unchallenged that we encounter the fullness of God’s joy. It is only in His presence that we’re reminded of the depths of His goodness; that He would still pursue us and love us when we are too downtrodden to pick ourselves up. He would still choose to enjoy the pleasures only He can provide with an imperfect humanity.
When we feel like David and everything is so dark that we cannot find something to thank Him for, we can always go back to the basics. We can always praise Him for the salvation that he’s never tried to revoke from us and the love He has shown us from before the very beginning.