How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
4 Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
5 But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
6 I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
What a roller coaster of emotions Psalm 13 expresses! Somehow the singer moves from despair to trust. I’m not sure how that works in terms of the writer/singer’s emotional state—does he “feel” better at the end of the psalm? But even when God seems absent and our feelings fluctuate, His love is the basic thing to be counted on.
To get an idea how our faith can increase, look at how the psalm ends. “I will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me.” Recent research shows that expressing gratitude, counting blessings and the practice of being thankful have a real effect on one’s emotional state.
When my brother went through a period of negativity recently, we were very worried about him. But he came through it by disciplining himself to count and name blessings, and express gratitude for all the goodness in his life. When we practice looking for where God has been good, it is harder to feel, deep in our bones, that He has been absent. Perhaps, as this psalm indicates, God answers us through our own exercise of thankfulness.
Lisa Clark Diller
Chair, Dept. of History and Political Studies
Southern Adventist University