In the midst of all of my earthly change and difficulty and sorrow, God, I know that your character is unchanging. I know that I can go to my final absolute rock and find my refuge in who you are.
We're so glad you've joined us on the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hi, I'm Bill Wright, and today we're continuing our series, How Long, O God, with part two of a message titled, How Long Must I Suffer? Last time, Don introduced us to David's lament in Psalm 13. David had seemingly not gotten an answer from God in response to his crying out in distress.
As a result, his heart was suffering. If you've ever had moments like that, Don has some biblical encouragement for you today, and it has to do with exchanging the question, why with who? Let's join our teacher now as he continues in his ministry of teaching God's people God's Word in the Truth Pulpit. Look at verse three with me again. He says, Consider and answer me, O Lord my God. Enlighten my eyes or I will sleep the sleep of death. He says, Lord, consider me.
In other words, what he's saying here in verse three, he's saying, God, pay attention to me. Pay attention. Help me. This silence has gone too long.
God, God, have a gracious attitude toward me in the midst of my sorrow, and now that I have your attention, answer me. Give me a perspective that I now lack that will help me going forward. I'll say it again. Give me a perspective that I now lack that will help me going forward.
I don't have this. I don't get it. I don't understand. God, give me wisdom. Going back to James again. James chapter one, verse five, in the context of very profound trials, he says, But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all generously and without reproach and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. God, I don't have any wisdom here. I don't know what to do. Life is moving on without me, God. My dreams are dissipating before my very eyes, God, and I'm still sitting on the sidelines. I'm not in the game.
And it's the fourth quarter and it's late. God, give me wisdom. Give me help.
Pay attention to me. And what this is, this is the language of doctoral studies in faith that we're seeing David express here. We're seeing advanced faith being articulated here, not a kindergarten variety. This is the urgency and the language of sincere determination that says, God, I know you have the answers and I know you care about me and so somehow in this there has to be a motivation for you to unleash your power and to help me in the midst of it. David in his situation, writing as the king, reminds God that if David fell, it would give his enemies occasion to boast over him. Look at verse 4.
He says, enlighten my eyes or I will sleep the sleep of death and verse 4, my enemy will say I have overcome him and my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken. That's not simply a personal concern of David's. Remember, he's God's king. He's the head of the theocratic nation so that if David stumbles, the people are affected by that as well and the glory of God is diminished in the eyes of men if God would not deliver his king. David's position makes God's answer urgent.
If they boasted over David, it would be like they were boasting over God himself and so having brought that perspective to the matter, David bearing out his bankrupt understanding, bearing out his bothered soul, crying out for help that seems so long delayed, cries out and says and asks again, God help me. Beloved, in the midst of your trials like that, don't stop asking. Don't stop asking for help.
This is the pattern. This is the way that it would cultivate a sense of ongoing dependence in your life. That's part of what the Lord is developing in us in these times is that we would learn an ongoing, truly humble dependence upon him and that we would learn to express that dependence in believing prayer that asks once again, God give me my daily bread. God lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil. God deliver me.
God help me. It's not a one-time request and then everything changes and gets better. This is a pattern and a way of life in these kinds of seasons and so he summons God for deliverance and that summons brings him to a new place spiritually. As we go to verse five and for our third major point, you can see his song of delight. His song of delight and David here pivots in verses five and six. He pivots from the despair. He pivots from the request for help and he pivots into praise.
He pivots into trust. Look at verse five and verse five is almost jarring by way of its contrast with what has preceded it. He says in verse five, but I have trusted in your loving kindness. My heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountifully with me. If you want to look for a pivot point in the midst of your despair, my friends, look at those first two words in the English text of verse five where David says, but I, but I. Here he is making a declaration of faith.
But I is a recognition. God, everything I have said to you is true and it expresses the reality of the situation as I see it at the moment. Your silence, my tears, the apposition of my enemies, the urgency of the situation, and there's a lot at stake. And you could just pile those up and place a burden on someone's back and just watch them collapse before you.
Sure, you could. But again, those first four verses are not the end of the psalm. But I is an expression of the fact that David says there is another transcendent, broader, taller, deeper, wider perspective to this than my earthly situation. And it's here, beloved, where you make the articulation of faith. It is here where you find the strength to continue on.
But I is an emphatic expression of David's resolve. He says, I will not collapse under the weight of this trial. Whatever else happens, I will not collapse to such a degree that I walk away and I abandon my faith. I will not forget what I know. Oh, this is so important. It's important, Connor.
It's really critical what I'm about to say. Despite everything, I will not forget what I know to be true about the character of God. In the midst of all of my earthly change and difficulty and sorrow, God, I know that your character is unchanging. I know that I can go to my final absolute rock and find my refuge in who you are.
One day I will rejoice and sing. How can he say that when he doesn't know the way forward? This is insanity from a human perspective. This is insane to say, I have a way forward when I've just said I have no way forward. Look at what he does. He says in verse 5, but I have trusted in your loving kindness. I have trusted in your loyal love.
I know that you care about me and I know that you are loyal to your people. And whatever else may be true about these earthly circumstances, God, I know that that has not changed. I don't see the way forward. I don't understand how I got here. I have no idea how you could possibly bring any good out of this whatsoever.
This is beyond my ability to grasp. But God, I know one thing. I have one unalterable cornerstone that cannot be abandoned, that will not be abandoned. There is one overarching principle that determines the course of your dealings without your people.
It is an unchanging principle of the moral universe. God, you're a God of loving kindness. You're a God of loyal love to your people. You would never leave your people in a permanent state of despair, God. You would never abandon us to an utter crushing that had no relief ever, ever, ever, ever. And so while I feel crushed now, God, I know that your loving kindness is still as real as it was before the trial ever came to me.
I will not deny, as many have said, I will not deny in the darkness what I came to know to be true in the light. What's happened here, God? A great black cloud has intervened between me and the sun, but Lord, I know that the cloud eventually goes away, not because of the cycles of weather, but because of who you are. You are a God of unfailing love and faithfulness and kindness and grace to your people, and God, I rest and trust everything completely in that. I stake, God, everything I care about, God, is at stake here.
Everything I care about has been affected by the events in my life. God, God, everything is on the table, and I want you to know that even in that desperate time, God, I remember your loyal love. I remember your faithfulness, and I trust in that alone even when I see nothing that, earthly speaking, will alleviate my suffering. I trust in you that much, God. And so rather than looking for relief and deliverance for my anguished soul from an earthly circumstance, God, I look up to you, and what I remember is your faithful love.
I remember your unfailing kindness to your people, and Lord, though undeserving, you've brought me into your family. Lord, though undeserving, I am in your hand, and I trust you to be who you are. I trust you to manifest to me that which is eternally true about your own character. I trust you, in other words, oh God, I trust you to deal with me individually in my despair and difficulty and grief. I trust you to deal with me personally like I know you are to be eternally. And God, in that, I have a hope that cannot fail. Go back to Psalm 13 with me.
As you're turning there, beloved, I've got to say this. There are certain things of absolute truth that have to be said about the nature and the dealings of God, and we let those define the way we view everything else. God is a God of everlasting love. God is a God of faithfulness.
God is a God of goodness to his people, and he will never violate his loyalty to us. And that means something. We're meant to say a therefore at that point. We're meant to say there's a consequence to that in my difficulty and despair. And beloved, this is something that you can take as the one absolute certainty in the midst of all of your confusion and pain, every bit of it, without exception. No matter what age, no matter what condition, no matter how weak your present faith may seem to be, this is what's true. God will never leave you in a permanent state of despair even though your trial is severe, deep, and has lasted for a very, very long time, and there's no obvious solution to it. No matter how many years pass in your trial, no matter how difficult things become, no matter how hard it is just to pull yourself out of bed in the morning, no matter all of that, beloved, the one thing that is absolutely true in the midst of that is that God will not abandon you to complete sorrow and despair forever if you are in Christ. If nothing else, if nothing else, death will usher you into his presence where there is no longer any mourning or pain or tears.
If nothing else, that. But beloved, especially those of you younger in life, which is most of you younger than me, most of you younger than me, I've been a Christian for 35 years now, almost, and I've seen this play out in my life. I've seen it play out in the lives of saints that are now in heaven.
I've seen it play out in your lives. Beloved, God is faithful. God is good, and he will bring good to you. He will comfort your soul in time. He will help you. He will change the perspective.
He'll inject something new. He'll do something so that the pain will be softened, the corner will be turned, and there will be a new light in your understanding, and there will be a new delight of the proven faithfulness of God to you personally. That is who God is, and that is what he does for his people. Proverbs 3, 5, and 6. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight. Look at verse 6 in Psalm 13. David says, I will sing to the Lord.
Notice the all-caps. Lord, Yahweh, the covenant-keeping, promise-keeping God of his people. I'm putting my confidence in who God has revealed himself to be, and David is saying, I know that the Lord will certainly help me. He rises to a great faith as his faith has been reminded and informed by the character of God. He rises to a great faith even though nothing has changed.
Sinclair Ferguson says this. He says, God's name indicates that he is a gracious and powerful redeeming, providing, guiding God. A God who overcomes all opposition to his purposes. The very God that David needed, David already had.
And although David does not have any present relief, he can still sing. Verse 6, look at it with me. I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountifully with me. David prays for wisdom. He prays for help. He prays for enlightenment. I want you to see something really vital here. He prays in the midst of all of this despair and sighing and the length of time, and he's been praying and praying, God, God, how long?
God, help me. Do you know what the answer of God to his prayer is? It's included in the Psalm. The answer to David's prayer for help and enlightenment, beloved.
The answer to your prayer for help and comfort and enlightenment is God himself. It's the character of who God is. He turns a corner because he remembers and trusts in the loving kindness. His heart rejoices in the salvation of his God.
He sings to the Lord in who it is. And that is the guidance. That is the way forward.
I know this. This is absolutely true for every one of us that are in Christ. This is absolutely true even if you don't see it, even if this sounds like the most preposterous, stupid thing to come out of the mouth of a man standing in a pulpit that you've ever heard in your entire life. Don't lean on your own understanding. Lean on the Word of God on this one. What you need, what your heart, what answers, the devastation of your heart is the character of who God is. Habakkuk said, I will exalt in the Lord even though everything else fails. David says, I'll sing to the Lord.
I've trusted in your loving kindness. David here in Psalm 13 has been praying in a slightly different way. Where, God?
Where are you? And what we find throughout the pages of Scripture, what we find at the end of Psalm 13 is this. Where is God in the midst of my trials? Beloved, what I want you to see is this.
Not where, but who. Who God is sufficiently answers the question where He is because who God is tells you inevitably where He will take you forward in His love, in His faithfulness, and in His grace. Who God is answers the question because it reminds us that He knows and He cares. And beloved, I'm not saying these words cheaply. God is my witness.
I don't say these things cheaply or lightly, what I'm about to say. When these things, when we see these things in the Word of God, when we come to know the true character of God, we do this. We take the long-term perspective on our trials based on God's character rather than despairing in the short-term perspective based on what we see in our unfavorable circumstances. God has dealt bountifully with us. David, it's translated in the past sense, he has dealt bountifully with me. The certainty of God's provision is so absolute that we can speak about it before we experience it as though it were a past tense event. It is so certain that this will happen that I can say God has dealt bountifully with me before I actually experience the bounty in time.
Days and months and years recede in significance in light of who God is because we trust not for a timetable but for who He is. And let me add a closing New Testament word to this. Eventually you always want to go to the cross. Eventually quickly you want to go to the cross and find the answer to all of these things. The judgment of God poured upon His Son who voluntarily stood in our place at the cross, who in love took our place to bear our sin, to bear the wrath of God in order to deliver us, in order to make certain the fact that we would be in the people of God and with Him forever. At the cross you look and you see the utter certainty, the undeniable reality of the perfect love of God manifest as the Son of God achieved the culmination of the reason that He left heaven in order to come to earth, that He might give of Himself in love for the salvation of your soul from sin. Beloved, look at the cross and see the love of God and draw the only conclusion that is possible even though I don't understand. Even though my heart is breaking I remember my Redeemer. I remember His love. I remember that He has saved me therefore it has to come out different than what it feels like today.
It has to. Otherwise God's loyal love would be violated and that's impossible. And so I'll trust in that love even when I don't understand. So in Christ, beloved, we can wait. You say, but it hurts and how long do I have to wait? Just a little longer.
Just a little longer. And beloved those of you that are in Christ, one day soon enough we'll be standing on the shores of glory. God is good all the time, even when we're wondering why deliverance from distress might yet not have arrived. You need never doubt that. Pastor Don Green will have more of our series How Long O God next time here on The Truth Pulpit.
Do join us then. Right now though Don's back in studio with news of a great resource. Well my friend as we bring today's broadcast to a close I want to offer you a very special gift, a special resource as a gift from our ministry. It's my series called Trusting God in Trying Times.
And this series over the years has proven to be the most popular set of messages that I've ever done. It helps you know how to trust God as you're going through the deep sorrows that sometimes come to us in life. It comes from the book of Habakkuk in the Old Testament and it comes from some very deep sorrows of my own that were present early in my Christian life. It's very personal. It's very helpful. It's very biblical.
And I would love to see you have it in your hands. It's available in CD album or by download. Transcripts are available if you prefer that. My friend Bill is going to give you information on how to find it. Just visit our website at thetruthpulpit.com to get the resource Don just mentioned. That's thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright and we'll see you next time when Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word on The Truth Pulpit.
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