If you have ever lived in a big city, you understand traffic. In certain places, on certain days of the week and times of the day, you get stuck in it. And when you do, you start asking yourself ‘How long?’ You wonder, am I going to be late to my meeting or to my kid’s soccer game?
Am I going to miss tip off or kick off or first pitch at the sports team of your choice? It feels like you will never get there, that you will be stuck forever. But even when we ask ourselves how long it is going to take, we generally are acknowledging in the question itself that we know that at some point, we will get there. It may take a while, but we know eventually, it will happen.
At one point in my life, I think I counted Psalm 13 and others like it as expressions of doubt. Not that it was bad, but just that it was that part of the human experience we call doubt.
The Psalmist seems to doubt whether God is there and whether God loves them. They seem to think God is playing hide and seek with them.
If I am honest, I have to admit that I have felt like that sometimes as well. I certainly relate to the Psalmist.
But the more I read this Psalm, I realize it is not an expression of doubt at all. It’s an expression of faith. A deep and abiding faith.
This is not a person asking ‘if’ God will show up again. This is a person wondering when God will show up again.
This isn’t a person who doubts God is real. This is someone who knows God is real and is having an honest conversation with Him.
Like our experience in heavy traffic, this is not a matter of if we will ever arrive at our destination. It is a matter of how long it will take us to get there. By asking God how long God will hide His face, the Psalmist is admitting that there is a God and that at some point, God will indeed show His face.
He expresses that trust at the end of the Psalm too.
He decides to trust God even when He can’t see His face right now.
This is not a Psalm of doubt. This is a Psalm of honest and deep faith. When we’re questioning God, we’re talking to Him. And when we’re talking to Him, it means we know He is real. I think it’s when we stop questioning Him that we need to worry.
Rev. Matt Neely is the Senior Pastor at Good Shepard United Methodist Church in Cypress, Texas.
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