Sermon on Psalm 13

Psalm 13
Sarah Schoeffel
29 June, 2104
I am 18 years old, but I think I will always have one fear I won’t be able to overcome. That fear showed itself when I went up to Washington DC for orientation this past week. That fear is being alone. It started when my mom and I were shopping. She went a separate direction while I was getting some gummy bears. Right after I grabbed them I went looking for her but couldn’t find her. Panic set it. Fear set in, but lone behold I saw my mom a few minutes later because I was determined to find her. I remained hopeful that we would be reunited soon. I mean it was a very small store, and I had the hotel room key, so she needed me.

In the reading I chose today from the lectionary, David is feeling abandoned by God. He cries out for help, but he fails to hear anything in return. He longs for God, but as the psalm progresses, he holds onto hope because he believes in the salvation God has promised. Hear now, Psalm 13.

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

But I 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.

The Word of the Lord.

(Thanks be to God.)

I chose this reading today because I had shared my desire to write with Pastor Elizabeth. Through writing I want to better understand God’s placement in the world when such horrors from natural disasters to human made atrocities occur. This psalm strikingly reflects how humans question God, but it has helped me to redirect some of that questioning to trust. God is present in the world. He will not control our lives nor will He make them easy, but He will also produce hope, much hope and splendor through the form of marriages, births, and kindness from strangers. Yes, each of us will face dark days, but God will always provide us light to get through. We may trudge through the darkness, but no one can take that which He gave to you from you, hope and salvation.

But I think we can all say that we’ve felt like David before. We think God has abandoned us that He isn’t listening, but He has a plan. David is feeling afraid and alone but he is also reassured from God’s promise of salvation. That hope keeps him nourished and strong against those enemies who wish to defeat him. He trusts the Lord will uphold His promise. David keeps his faith in the Lord that He shall deliver, and we need to follow David’s example.

I know I myself have had times where I felt abandoned by God. When I went to China a few years back, any form of Christianity outwardly shown had to be void from my life. Being in a foreign country not knowing anyone and not being able to simply call my parents I relied on God to get me through the first night of loneliness. I cried a lot the first night. I was 16 years old and I didn’t know anyone and it was around 1:30 AM on arrival so no one wanted to stay up, but God stayed up with me. Sure enough the darkness of night turned into a promise of hope in the weeks to come as the sun rose the next morning. There are always brighter days ahead I would remember, and by the end of the 8 weeks I can conclude that I had a marvelous time. We as humans can be afraid of the unknown, but God doesn’t leave our sides. He can be relied on as a comfort across time span and physical distance.

Feeling left out or alone isn’t taboo, but it’s important to remember and recognize the real support that lingers around you. Sometimes you, as any human would, need reassurance or comfort. I encourage you to seek support when you need it whether it be from a counselor, a pastor, a good friend, Stephen Minister, or even God. God is on call 24/7 365 days a year, and He loves to hear from you, so don’t put Him on hold then complain He doesn’t answer you. Call out to Him, and He will answer and support you through the good times and the bad. He is here for the long haul.

Loneliness can be felt in a multitude of issues that each of us experience from a dedicated wife leaving the familiar to support her husband in a new job to when your spouse or parent dies, but David tells us to be reassured. God will always be present to be that support that the world in its current form cannot always provide. The world has continuously been challenged with these problems like during the Civil War when African American slaves sang hymns stemming from the “How Long” repetition in this psalm. They longed for freedom, and God did answer their prayers like in the form of President Lincoln and the abolitionist movement. Many people today still have tough questions for the Church. Where God is? Why there are unexplainable atrocities and natural disasters?  Why war exists as well as innocent children dying of hunger? Though we as humans cannot do but guess at the reasons, the Lord reminds us to trust in Him whom will always deliver. Maybe not in the time frame we want or the way we want him to but He will.

“I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.”

-Eat, Pray, Love

Our lives are ever changing. New jobs. New friends. New books. New movies. New houses. New lives. Keep God your constant. He is the one sure thing in this world that you can rely 100% on.