“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How 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?
“Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him,’ lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
“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.”
I read these words and hear the prayer of Jesus on the cross after He says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” That was the first moment ever throughout all eternity that the Father and Son had been separated. The pain of that separation was so incredibly intense that Jesus asks if the Father will forget him forever, how long the Father would hide His face from Him, and how long His enemy (death) would be exalted over Him. Jesus asks the Father to light up His eyes, to revive Him, unless he sleeps the sleep of death, which sounds like being dead forever. For then His foes would rejoice.
Then Jesus says, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love.” He knows God will save Him, restore Him, deal bountifully with Him, and, yes, even resurrect Him.
Also, I can’t read this Psalm without thinking of Dawn, my first wife who died from breast cancer in 2012.
It was something like six years ago that we were getting a second opinion in Chicago regarding a brain tumor the doctors in Cincinnati found. We went to Chicago believing that God was going to miraculously heal this brain tumor. The Chicago doctors would do their tests and find nothing. But, after the test, the doctor came in and confirmed the golf-ball sized tumor in Dawn’s brain.
When the doctor left the room, Dawn began weeping. I mean really weeping. We had a 25-minute drive back to the hotel, and she wept the whole way. We got to the hotel room and she curled up on the bed and continued weeping. The entire time I felt completely helpless. What could I say to her? What could I do for her?
Flash back something like three to six months before that when I started a plan to read the Bible through in a year. So, of course, I had no idea what I would be dealing with the day of the doctor’s diagnosis.
As I sat in the chair in the hotel room, feeling so helpless, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, “Remember what you read this morning.” I got my reading plan out. I had read Psalm 13 that morning. I told Dawn I wanted to read her a psalm. So, I read Psalm 13 to her. I told her that I know it seems like God has forgotten you, but you can trust Him.
It was like a switched had been flipped. Her mindset changed immediately. The atmosphere in the room changed. She rolled over and asked me to read Psalm 91 to her. Then she asked me to read Psalm 23. For the next two years, I don’t recall her shedding another tear about what she was facing.
That day is forever etched in my mind. God is in control of everything – no matter what the situation looks like. I started that reading plan months before on “my own” initiative. And, the very day that we needed a word from the Lord to deal with feeling forgotten, God had me read Psalm 13. That wasn’t chance. That wasn’t an accident. God had a plan. It wasn’t our plan, but His, and it was good.
Since that time, for the last six years, I have read the Bible through continuously. At first I read it through a couple of times in one year. Then I read it all the way through every three months for one year. So, four times through in a year. For the last several years I have read it through every six months.
I don’t do it out of some religious obligation. It’s not an item on my checklist. It doesn’t make me a good person, a good Christian, or earn me some sort of favor with God. But, every morning I get to hear from Jesus. And, I can’t tell you how many times I have received the absolutely perfect word from the Holy Spirit that I would need later that day. It has happened so many times now all I can do is laugh.
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6
My reading of the scriptures every morning is an act of faith. I believe God exists and that as I diligently seek Him He will reward me. I hope this encourages you to do the same.