Friday, February 13, 2015

How Long, LORD?

Psalm 13

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
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?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

Within every person lies the potential to be good or evil, righteous or wicked, loving and merciful, or callous and uncaring, God's way or my way. David saw this truth within himself. So often he prayed for deliverance from his enemy and his foes. But who, really, is the enemy?
In the midst of great struggles it can seem like God is silent and distant. Our own pursuit of the wrong, sinful, selfish desires within can move us further and further away from God's light; like a flame being distanced from it's source of fuel. This journey called life is a constant battle. Every day there is a war raging within us...a fight for our own soul's survival. Every day we awake to new possibilities and a series of thoughts and decisions, conflicts and encounters with our own conscience. Temptations and trials never seem to end. This battle takes place within; at the core of our being--that place where our thoughts and emotions are birthed. Here is the place where the enemy seems to gain victory...when our own thoughts and emotions control us and our actions. When the truth becomes a lie. 

In verse 2 of this Psalm David asks, 

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? 

So it becomes clear that his own thoughts can be his foes when he allows his thoughts to take control of him, and he sees the struggle and the potential of what can happen when he allows his thoughts to boss him around. Our thoughts and actions are guided either by our emotions and feelings, without much consideration, or we can pray for a heart of wisdom, giving our thoughts over to God, who in turn helps us to think things through; to weigh our decisions and be guided by a conscience that is turned over to God. When we allow our own thoughts and feelings to guide us, we're easy prey for the lies of this world. But when we pray, as David does here, God's light shines through our darkness and exposes the lies and allows us to see the truth and the potential of every decision, good or bad.
The real struggle, as Paul wrote in the new testament, is not with flesh and blood. It is a spiritual battle, fought in a spiritual kingdom. Therefore, I cannot fight my self-defeating thoughts and feelings in the flesh. This is why David turns to God as he retreats to his prayer closet. It is through prayer and confession that we draw closer to God and further away from the grip of the enemy who wants to control our hearts and minds so that we don't think about God or or anyone besides ourselves. Our foes, then, are those very thoughts and feelings that can deceive us and cause us to be blinded from reality, and to make split decisions without thinking things through, and to act upon what we think is right or best for us. Sometimes even the well meaning advice of others can be our "foes." 
Psalm 1:1 says, blessed are they that do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. That ungodly counsel can come from our own minds, shaped by a number of competing influences. 
Turning to God regularly in prayer can help us to discern what is best for us, and to proceed from there with the decisions we make