Psalm 13: How Long?

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

– Psalm 13

Again, these words have a very contemporary ring. If Psalm 12 was about problems out there in the world, Psalm 13 is much more personal, it’s not about problems they face, it’s about the problems I face! This hasn’t been the first time we’ve met this theme in the Psalms and it won’t be the last. Why? Because undeserved suffering is a constant recurring theme in our lives.

Job says we are born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward from the fire and Jesus himself tells us that in this world you will have trouble. So, what to do?

The first thing to do is to confront reality, not to escape from it or pretend that everything is alright when it so obviously isn’t. ‘The Psalms train us in honest prayer.’ (Eugene Peterson)

The second thing to do, as always, is to take our troubles to God and even if necessary to express our frustration with him. Don’t worry God is big enough to cope with that (the whole of Job!).

The third thing, as we turn to God, is to find hope in him. ‘The psalmist is clear that the dread situation is beyond his own coping. There will be no way out of the trouble unless YHWH can act’ (Brueggemann).

It is not entirely evident whether verses 5–6 are a response to God’s action or an anticipation of God’s action but it as we trust in his unfailing love (shown to us most clearly in Jesus), as we see that depth of that love (shown to us most clearly at the cross) and the transforming power of that love (shown to us most clearly in an empty tomb) that we can begin to sing again – even if it’s still dark outside.