On hearing my sister was sick, my first reaction was to cry out, “How long, O Lord?” How long will my sister face continued hardship? So many trials plague her. This feels like too much! I was reminded of Psalm 13 and of David’s same cry as he faced overwhelming trials. And I found myself praying through it.
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? (Ps 13:1–2)
David is surrounded by enemies and feels that God has forgotten him. No help is in sight and he is gripped by sorrow. His heart is restless and he is questioning God’s intentions.
My sister has grappled with her enemies for a long time. Years ago, she was hit by a speeding vehicle while she was stopped at a red light. Since then, her life has been filled with a series of challenges that have resulted in a steady reduction of her abilities and activities. And seasons of depression have made it hard for her to trust in the Lord.
I ride these waves of emotions with her. COVID was just the latest one. I was frightened for her, angered at the pandemic, and frustrated by the mandated separation from her. I couldn’t understand why she had to face another major setback after so much loss. I was afraid God had forgotten her.
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. (v.3–4)
David asks God to turn toward him and answer, to help him understand. He asks for “light to his eyes.” He wants to understand how God is at work protecting him from the enemies who were intent on taking his life.
I asked God for the same, that he would turn toward us and answer. I prayed that he would heal my sister from the coronavirus; after all, he had brought her back from the brink of death before. And though it was hard, I tried to pray for what is best in his eyes, not my own. “I do believe that you bring healing and resurrection out of your deep love for us, Lord—help my unbelief!”
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. (v.5–6)
As he pleads with the Lord to protect him, David remembers his salvation and sings with joy. The Lord had dealt with him faithfully (v.6) as he called David from the fields tending sheep to fight Israel’s most brazen enemy; he would do so again.
My sister had grown to trust in the Lord in spite of her trials; he made himself known to her in an increasingly real and personal way. Her faith is childlike and yet has grown sure. She often says, “God saved me in that accident, you know. I was in the palm of his hand and that is why I was not crushed in that car. He will never let me go.” I wondered if she was able to remember his faithful care in the delirium that the virus brought.
And why was I struggling so? Was I doubting that God would be true to his nature as he worked in my sister’s life? Why was it harder to trust him to work in her life than in my own? I prayed, “Lord, please help me to trust you to care for my sister. Like her, I have experienced your steadfast love over the years in the numerous battles that I have faced. I, too, can rejoice in the salvation that has brought me from death to life in my own heart. Please help me to trust that you will care for my sister according to your steadfast love.”
Weeks went by, and my sister did recover. I am thankful for God’s kind grace to her and all of our family. I had cried out in fear and with a sense of perceived abandonment. But he had neither abandoned my sister in her illness nor me in my struggle with doubt. He was with us and he was protecting us. My heart was filled with peace—for a while anyway.
So like David, I can sing for joy as I remember the Lord’s goodness. I hope that I will continue to trust him, regarding the coronavirus and the next hard path that he calls my sister and me to tread. I want us both to be assigned easier paths. But being held by the One with unfailing love who is also the One firmly in control of every path—that is our true salvation.