The Lie of Isolation
People say time flies when you’re having fun. But when things shift into a minor key, life seems to move in slow motion. We find ourselves thinking, “I don’t know if I’m ever going to get out of these circumstances. And I don’t know how I can endure them.”
Psalm 13 contains a recurring question: “How long? How long?” David’s circumstances aren’t described, but he clearly feels forgotten and forsaken—a feeling we all can relate to. It’s akin to what we feel when we lose a loved one or when we feel that we must walk through a valley of trial alone.
To be isolated from human relationships is, without question, crushing. But what David writes of here is even more significant. He’s expressing a feeling of isolation from God Himself.
This sentiment is shared by many of God’s people throughout Scripture. In Isaiah, God’s exiled people cry out, “The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me” (Isaiah 49:14). Christian pilgrims—genuine followers and servants of Jesus—do sometimes feel like saying, “I believe the Lord has actually forgotten us. If He has not forgotten us, if He was still with us, how would we be in this predicament? If He truly was watching over us, surely we would not have to endure these trials.”
Yet in David’s emerging depression, we discover that his perception (as is often the case with our own) does not reflect reality. And David has the spiritual maturity and humility to acknowledge that what he feels is true does not align with what he knows is actually true. So he reminds himself of God’s steadfast love, His salvation, and His generosity—and resolves to rejoice in those things even as he struggles and suffers (Psalm 13:5-6).
This is the hope-filled tension of the Christian life. We ask, “How long, Lord? Where are you, God?” even as we remind our own hearts that God has not stopped loving us, delivering us, or working in us.
Do not believe the lie of abandonment that your emotions can feed you. Rest in God’s comforting response to His forgetful people: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me” (Isaiah 49:15-16). God’s care for His children is like the sun: it’s constant. Even when the clouds obscure it, it’s still there. It’s always there.
Will you trust in God’s constancy today? When you are next feeling forsaken, know that God looks at His hands, engraved with each and every one of His children’s names, and He says, There you are. I have not forgotten you.
How Long, O Lord?
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
1How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2How 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?
3Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
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