I’ve decided to ask a few people to write occasional articles for me to use at Borrowed Light. Nick Horton is one of those fine souls to agree to do this. He blogs at http://nicholashorton.wordpress.com/and you can follow him on Twitter @NickHorton
“Oh God, have you forgotten me?” My chest heaves under stress and pressure, feeling as though there is an actual weight crushing down on me. I walk as though in a fog, aware I have somewhere to be, but I can’t see where I’m going or what is ahead. My wife asks me “What’s wrong? Are you upset?” Even the question feels like another thing to do, more responsibility, more pressure. My mind reels, clawing to stay afloat, yet slowly sinking beneath the ice-cold waves of despair.
When these dark times come, I have nowhere to turn but God. As I grow older, I am learning to shorten the time between trusting myself and throwing myself on the mercy of God. Anything else that I could turn to for comfort during these dark nights of the soul are just idols. Only God can provide the comfort my soul needs. His word shines forth on the darkness of my mood.
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.
I can relate to David’s feelings. Stress, fear, worry, doubt; all burden my heart and drive me to despair. I can relate to what he says in Psalm 23 of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. God, as my Father, can handle the cry of his child. I can approach him with my fears and sorrow and ask him, “How long, O Lord?” I can echo that longing and feel it deep within. He won’t get angry at my asking. He can handle it. In fact, he wants me to come running to him. Doing so is acknowledgment of his rightful place as King, and my place as servant.
David goes from his lament that God seems to have forgotten Him to a very important truth. His anchor in whatever storm he was going through.
“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.”
He went back to the foundation of his faith. In our despair, we need to remember we have a great High Priest who lives to intercede for us: Jesus Christ. In the midst of despair, David returns to what he knows about God, about himself, and what that means about how he should live.
He has trusted in the steadfast love of God. His heart rejoices in God’s salvation of him. When life closes in on you, death approaches you, and you feel as though your back is to the wall, remember that God has saved you from this light and momentary affliction. It doesn’t feel light, but against eternity with God it most certainly is. Recall how God has blessed you. Practice thankfulness. This is counterintuitive to the world, but you are no longer of the world if you are in Christ.
Sing to the Lord in your suffering. Acknowledge your fear, pain, and suffering, worship God, and sing to him! Sing songs of lament like Psalm 13. Sing songs of praise, though you may not “feel” like singing. Don’t be led by your feelings. Lead your feelings. Pull your heart along whether it desires to go or not, it will follow.
The first verse of the hymn “It Is Well” sticks in my mind and heart, tucked in there with Psalm 13, for dark times. Read this, sing it if you know the tune, and worship the God who is worthy.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.