My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):
God answers prayer. But sometimes, God is silent. Today’s verse reminds me of my own coming out story. As a young adult fresh out of high school and entering college, I traveled the same journey to self discovery that many of us traveled. In the beginning I read everything I could get my hands on pertaining to what “gay” was about. Without the benefit of the internet, what little information I received was misleading and at times horrifying. Once I got to college I realized the freedom to explore and learn even more. As I matured I eventually learned a lot about gay life, but the question about what God thought about all of this continued to elude me. Not wanting to lose my faith in exchange for full acceptance of my whole self, I prayed to God. “God tell me if you hate me now because I am gay.”
At some point I decided I didn’t want this life if it meant total separation from God and an eternity in hell. “Tell me something”, I yelled at God. Answer me! What I received in response was silence; total silence. Why was God silent? When I prayed to God about finances, family relationships, and questions about other decisions I had received, through one way or another, answers would come. But on this topic of sexuality I only heard Divine silence. As believers we’ve all been there–or will be there. We may earnestly seek God, but in return only sense Gods’ silence. And this silence can be difficult, frustrating even excruciating. “When you cannot hear God,” says Oswald Chambers in My Utmost For His Highest, “you will find that God has trusted you in the most intimate way possible–with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because God saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation.”
When you are completely comfortable with a person, it is possible to sit in a room together and not utter a word. In love, silence can be a sign of intimacy. As my faith has matured I realize that God’s silence is not a denial of a request. Perhaps God is saying that issue that you are so concerned about is already cared for. Perhaps God is simply pleased that your faith has driven you to engage in conversation. God wants us to see the power of faith, the power of prayer, and how good it is to draw near to God.
David prays the words of the psalm in our reading today at a time when he felt like God had forsaken him. The title of Psalms 13 is ‘How Long, O Lord, How Long?’. Four times in this short prayer, David asks the Lord, ‘how long?’. How long will You forget me? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long will I have to talk to myself? How long will my enemies be exalted over me?
This is how David felt and he didn’t have a problem expressing his feelings to the Lord, which feels like the right thing to do. As Christians, we sometimes find ourselves in circumstances that cause us to have these same feelings. We feel like the Lord has forgotten us, as if God’s face is hidden from us and our prayers are only a conversation with ourselves because our enemies have the upper hand and their grip is tightening on us. The Lord understands our feelings and knows how to change our fickle feelings into steadfast faith.
We can see the quick change the Lord made within David’s heart during this short prayer recorded in Psalms 13. By the end of Psalms 13, which is only six short verses, David is rejoicing. David states, ‘I will sing unto the Lord, because God hath dealt bountifully with me’.
How did David go from a man who felt forsaken by the Lord and like he was near death if the Lord didn’t answer his prayer soon to a man who was singing and praising the Lord within the time it took to pray this prayer? David made a conscious choice to trust the Lord. Verse 5 of Psalms 13 states: ‘But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation’.
David’s circumstances did not change within the few moments it took to pray this prayer, but his perspective did. That’s the power of faith. When we, like David, decide to stop listening to our fickle feelings, stop focusing on our less than desirable circumstances and trust the Lord in all circumstances, we change. In time, the Lord’s perfect timing, our circumstances will change as well, if we hold fast to our faith.
Thought for the day: What is my prayer and is my faith allowing me to wait on God?
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.