The Desert Times

Psalm 13:1-6 (ESV)

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.

What must David have been going through when he wrote this? Is this from the time that Saul was chasing him, trying to kill him? Or is this from when the Prophet Nathan pointed out his sin by taking Bathsheba, and having her husband murdered so he could have her as his wife? Was this while he was mourning during the week of his child’s suffering just before the child died?

While we don’t know the answer to these questions, we all have times in our lives, when we feel the absence of God. Whether God makes His presence known or not, we know that He promised that He would never leave us or forsake us. But there are times, Many of the mentors I have had over the years have called these times the “desert times.” They are like the 40 days in the desert that Jesus was tempted by Satan, just before Jesus began His public ministry. The Scriptures only make note of three temptations that Satan brought before the Lord, but there were certainly more than that.

During your “desert times” remember that even though God does not seem like He is there, He promised that He would be, and He does not break His promises. Sometimes God allows us to go through difficult times to prepare us for something better. Sometimes it is to teach us something that will help others. While we may not know or understand, we need to—as David does here—say, “But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.” We must choose to stay the course. To sing to the Lord, despite our circumstances.

Long ago, when my wife was pregnant with our second child, her blood pressure was through the roof. It was so bad that they put her in the hospital for three weeks. We were in Germany, I was in the Army, our first born was in school, and I was working, but I had a great boss that gave me time to take care of my son before and after school, to visit my wife daily, and it was tough. But I never lost hope. I never lost faith that God would take care of my wife, and our second son.

Sometimes, despite how it may seem, we just have to choose to trust God. There are other times that we can feel, or see His working in our lives, but during the desert times, we must just keep on keeping on. We must “soldier on” as we said in the army when looking at difficult situations.

No matter the circumstances, I will trust in God, is essentially what David is saying here, and we too, can say that. We must, in fact, say that, because tough times will come again. So if life is good right now, rejoice in His gifts of Grace and Mercy. If life is tough right now, Rejoice because He has promised to never forsake us! Good times will return. His mercy will show itself again. We just have to trust Him. We must choose. This is faith. This is trust. This is love!

by Virgil Stripes

Photo: The Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus spent the evening praying just before His arrest, and crucifixion.

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