From Sighing to Singing

Re-running some thoughts from 2012 . . .

You don’t have to read very far into Psalm 13 before you not only sense the desperation, but also find some connection in which you relate to the despair. Anyone who’s ever gone through an extended time of testing or trial finds themselves, I think, saying, “Been there.”

Four times the psalmist cries out to heaven, “How long?” You’ve forgotten me, Lord . . . how long? You’re hiding Your face from me . . . how long? I’m consumed by sorrow . . . how long? My enemy is winning . . . how long, O Lord, how long!?! Deep sigh! But you keep reading and the sighing turns to singing.

Not exactly sure what’s happening in David’s life as he writes this. Perhaps it’s that season when he’s on the run from King Saul. Crazy King Saul, set on destroying David, relentlessly pursues him. Not only does David not really have the resources to repel the king and his army, but David is also constrained by his loyalty to “God’s anointed” and to the anointed’s God. Even on those occasions when David had opportunity to do Saul in, he refuses to harm the one set on the throne by God. And so, it goes on and on and on . . . day in, day out . . . same trial, new twist and turn . . . a roller-coaster ride . . . a ringer he’s being run through. How long, O Lord, how long?

“Consider me,” David cries, “Answer me . . . Light up my eyes . . . or I’m done . . . and my enemies win.” David just needs to know that God’s got him on heaven’s radar. He wants some indicator that God’s engaged in his situation . . . he needs something to restore his physical strength, something to restore his inner strength.

And so he asks. He lifts his eyes towards God’s throne . . . He looks above while everything is coming apart below . . . and he simply asks. He engages the God of the universe in his struggle on earth. And, in that simple encounter, a mind-blowing dynamic kicks in . . . the sighing turns to singing.

“But I have 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.”

(Psalm 13:5-6 ESV)

Though it might be yet a little while before God deals with the Saul thing, in that moment of supplication, the Spirit of God intercedes with the spirit of David and David’s “how long” morphs into “how amazing!” The Spirit shores up David’s soul as He assures him afresh that the faithfulness of God’s steadfast love, which David has known in the past, is the same steadfast love David can trust in for the future. The Comforter reminds David that the salvation David has already known is just a deposit on the salvation that God says is yet to come. That the work begun will be completed. That the call placed on his life, will be fulfilled.

And so amidst his “how long” despair, a pilot light is lit in David’s heart. In the presence of God, his heart starts to rejoice at every recollection of the faithfulness of God known in the past. The Spirit floods David’s mind with every blessing he has received and David is reminded that a bountiful past is a deposit on a beyond imagination future. And the pilot light of remembrance and encouragement becomes a flame of praise and worship. And David finds himself singing to the Lord.

Been there. Others have too. Sighing that turns to singing.

Not because of anything that has immediately changed as a result of prayer’s pleas, but because in that moment of quiet despair . . . in the time of being still, and knowing that He is God . . . just in the privilege of being able to “dump” before God in the holy of holies and ask repeatedly “how long” and plead with Him for some help . . . just in that encounter, God so often responds with an inner calm.

And the still, small voice of the Spirit applies the balm of remembrance and of reassurance. And the promise that God is present, and that God knows, speaks into the soul that the “how long” will not be forever. And in that encounter there is a joy . . . a rejoicing . . . and, yes, sometimes there’s even singing.

I will sing to the LORD!

By His grace . . . for His glory.

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