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Five catalogs came in the mail today. In our household, catalogs are intercepted and dispatched to our recycling bin, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Each errant catalog marks a conversation between me and the company that sent it, as the company predicts a circumstantial need that I have and then offers a modestly priced remedy.
The commercial overture that each catalog represents hints at the condition of the human heart. We tend to operate out of our circumstances, looking for quick remedies to our problems. David describes his own problems in Psalm 13:1–2, where he prays:
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?
David is ripe for a remedy and rightly brings his struggle to God. The thrice-repeated “How long?” is an indictment of God’s apparent absence. David is in a bad spot and voices his frustration to God. And then, in an apparent reversal, Psalm 13 ends this way:
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. (vv. 5–6)
David is now expectantly hopeful, trusting, rejoicing, even singing. What changed? Before we can answer, let’s note that two things have decidedly not changed. First, David’s circumstances haven’t changed. The same circumstances that created the doldrums of Psalm 13:1–2 are still there. Second, God hasn’t changed. We see God’s person and work summarized in three truths, echoing the three “How long?” questions. God’s steadfast, covenant love hasn’t changed. God’s salvation hasn’t changed. And God’s previous beneficence toward David hasn’t changed. So, much is the same.
What changed is that David looked from his circumstances to God. His circumstances were dire while God remained his desire. David was able to throw his catalogs in the recycling bin. In challenging circumstances, he looked to God rather than to quick fixes.
Are you beset by trials today? Could you pray Psalm 13:1–2? You may be saying, “Yes, but that was David; he had seen so much of what God had done to convince him that God was faithful.” Well, dear Christian, you have seen something that David did not see; you know more than he knew. You know the gospel of Jesus Christ. God has confirmed both His person and work to you in the cross of Christ. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). Throw away your catalogs—any offers of God-supplanting quick fixes. Go to God. Rest in His person and His work. Your problems may not change, but neither will God.