What can you do when you are going through a spiritually difficult time?
It may surprise some of you, but it is not uncommon for the people of God to find themselves overwhelmed with a sense of God's absence.
In such cases feelings of discouragement overtake even the most strident of heart. Consider King David a powerful man of God, a true warrior and a man after God's own heart. Several times David struggled with experiencing a sense of God's absence in His life this. In Psalm 13:1-2 he says,
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
The idea of "hiding your face," refers to the lack of God's manifest presence in the Tabernacle. This particularly happened in David's time when the Ark of the Covenant went missing from Israel. So, David is literally saying, "I have no sense of your presence or blessing in my life."
I don't know why David felt this way. Perhaps it was due to an illness. Perhaps he was going through a leadership struggle. Maybe he was having serious family problems. He could have been struggling with a major bout of depression. Whatever it was, David was overwhelmed.
Four times David emphatically asks God "how long" he must endure such agony. As a result of the sense of God's absence, David struggles mightily with terrible thoughts, endures anguish in his heart and feels as if the powers of darkness have overtaken him. Have you ever been in the same place as David? I know I have.
What a terrible place to be! Why would God allow such a thing? Let me suggest to you these "valley experiences" help us to appreciate the goodness of God and learn what a blessing it is to have the simple sense of God's presence in our daily lives.
Such times of barrenness also teach us that God is also present even when He seems absent. During such times the remedy we can employ is faith and trust despite our internal feelings.
Faith is not devoid of action. Faith is acting despite our feelings. This is exactly what David did.
In Psalm 13:5-6 David states,
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord's praise,
for he has been good to me.
David basically says, "Despite the way I feel right now, I confess your unfailing love for me, I will make the decision to rejoice knowing you are my Savior and I will choose to sing your praise as I remember how good you have been in my life."
Praise flows freely from the top of the mountain, but in the darkness of the valley, we must choose to do what feels unnatural, putting our hope in God through our actions. Like David, in such situations we are called to "trust, rejoices, sing and remember," even if we don't feel like it.
Another one of my go to Scriptures for such seasons comes from Psalm 27:13,
"I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."
What keeps the Psalmist going is that although he is unable to currently see the goodness of God, he believes that he will see it once again. This thought is what enables him to press through a particularly dark time. This is the thought I often remember when I'm going through tough times too.
If you are going "through" one of those times, don't despair! You will one day be able to see the "goodness of the Lord," in your life again.