Our expectations for a new season of life are often founded on hope and rooted in a desired change from what we’ve seen before. For example, it could be the hope that things improve with our health, physically or relationally. Perhaps it’s the hope that our finances begin turning around or that we can develop more discipline in an area of our life. Professionally, it could be the hope of the results we want our organization to see.
These high expectations inform our goals for the year, personally and professionally, and can inspire us to start a new season with renewed energy and optimism. But the reality we all know is that unexpected challenges are going to come our way. When they do, our hope-based expectations are threatened. Over time, those challenges can build on one another in such a way that the expectation we’ve been focusing on becomes completely obscured.
When that happens in our life, we find ourselves doubting if what we hoped for was ever even possible. Spiritually, when we experience unfulfilled hope, it can lead us into seasons of doubting God’s goodness, character, and love. Because of our leadership positions in our homes and jobs, this tension can be hard to reconcile, and it’s often repressed rather than worked through.
David’s Psalms are a clear picture of the power of authenticity in our relationship with God. They’re a beautiful juxtaposition of hope and doubt, victory and defeat, and praise and fear. Let’s look at what David wrote about as he wrestled with the tension of hope and doubt and four lessons we can learn from him.
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
2 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?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
Go to Jesus
When we feel hurt by somebody, it’s natural to want to add distance to that relationship. However, we’ve all had opportunities to learn that, in most cases, a helpful way to manage and move past frustration and letdown in a relationship is to approach the other person directly.
When we are in a season where we are struggling to see God’s work and goodness in our lives, the best way to find clarity and breakthrough is to go directly to Him.
Be Real (v. 1-4)
Deep relationships are founded on authenticity. It’s through letting people see our “real” selves that trust is formed and restored. David approaches the Lord bluntly and honestly. What he’s experienced has led him to believe that God has forgotten him and has removed His favor from David’s life. It’s vital that we work through our fears and feelings with God. On the one hand, it’s great practice for us to put into words what He already knows. On the other, it’s helpful for the believer, as it can help us identify and recognize our feelings, which can be difficult with the pace at which we often run.
Trust Him (v. 5)
David’s tone changes dramatically in verse 5, starting with three powerful words: “But I trust.” There’s a shift in his writing from his honesty about what he feels in his current situation to what he knows to be true. He recalls the Lord’s goodness and recognizes that God’s love has not failed.
When we’re in a season similar to David, we need to recognize that doubt is allowing what we feel to prevent us from seeing what we know. If you’re in a season of feeling under-provided for, think back on the ways God has met your needs. If you’re dealing with the fear of a diagnosis or the unknown, take time to recall the way He’s been your protector. If you’re wrestling with anxiety, lean into the ways He’s proven the goodness of His plan in your life.
Worship (v. 6)
David ends Psalm 13 with a powerful crescendo: “I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” He allows what he knows to be true about God to move him to a place of worship. From what we can read, there hadn’t been a resolution to the needs and requests David had brought to the Lord. But even in the midst of those needs, he chooses to recognize that God has been good to him.
The ESV says that the Lord has “dealt bountifully with me.” Not only has He been good, but He’s given an overabundance of love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and provision to all of us. While it may be a challenge based on our circumstances and even feel unnatural because of how we feel, we have much to thank God for. Shifting our hearts to worship in seasons of doubt won’t “fix” our needs, but it will realign our perspective. More often than not, it can reveal that our hope had been in a solution rather than the One who has been in control the whole time.