Psalm 13

This is a talk I gave during Young Life Bacolod South Side’s Kick-Off Club last weekend. This club, the kick-off club, is usually a Young Life area’s biggest club for the entire year because it marks the beginning of the year’s activity in an area. It symbolizes a big start.

In our personal lives, a kick-off could be the start of a new hobby, the start of school, the start of a commitment to exercise, the start of a diet, the start of talking to your family, the start of a relationship.

But I think we’ve all noticed that the challenge lies not so much in starting along a path, but in staying on that path. Diba? Starting is a lot easier than staying.

I remember, a few years ago, when I was still in the Philippine Team for archery, all Philippine Team athletes were required to go through strict health examinations in one day. We were tested for everything: our eyesight, our hearing, our posture, our bones, our blood, our urine, everything.

In the physiology room, one of our exams was to do as many sit-ups as we possibly could in around two minutes. I was not used to sit-ups at all but I seemed to have started out great. The problem was when I got to around 15 sit-ups, I felt like I was going to pass out! I asked the therapist to stop the timer when I got to around 20+ sit-ups. I started, but I could not stay.

And as I was resting, a high schooler went inside the room for her physiology exam. She started out great as well, just like me. But, unlike me, she stayed. She just kept doing sit-ups…even after two minutes…even after all the men in the room had stopped. She did more than 120 sit-ups in two minutes. We were so amazed so we talked to her coach. The girl was a weightlifter, she was 15 years old, and her name was Hidilyn Diaz. And little did we know that ten years later, she’d win a silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The challenge is in the staying.

This is especially true in our faith. In our relationship with God. It is so easy for us to say, “I love you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord. I trust You.” But as we go along our walk with Jesus, we sometimes find ourselves so far away from Him.

We start, but it’s just so difficult to stay.

I think the difficulty lies in the fact that as we try to stay, problems come along the way.

Problems like:

  • My family does not have money anymore.
  • My parents keep fighting and my family is falling apart.
  • The people I care about are always leaving me.
  • I don’t think I can ever finish school.
  • My father or mother or loved one’s health is not getting any better.
  • I don’t think I will ever become a better person.
  • I don’t think I will ever feel important.

One thing that we can be thankful for, though, is that we are not the only ones who have problems. People in the past have had problems, people in the present are having problems (and they may be so different from ours). And those people can help us with advice.

One of the most helpful advice that I got is in the book of Psalms. It is Psalm 13 and it was written by King David (from the David and Goliath story).

After killing Goliath, David became king of Israel and scholars believe that King David wrote Psalm 13 during the a depressing time in his life. It was when his own son wanted to kill him.

Here it is:

Psalm 13

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?

3

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,

4

and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”

and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

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.

And from this chapter in the Bible, we can get 3 Ps that can help us stand firm and stay in our faith even as we go through a life full of problems.

PROBLEM

We need to admit that there is a problem.

In verses 1 and 2, King David expressed his anger, frustration, sadness, pangluod. He felt that God had forgotten him. King David probably even felt that God heard his cries and prayers, but chose to ignore him anyway.

King David said “how long” four times. He was impatient and was sick of waiting for God’s answer to his many questions. He was impatient and was sick of waiting for God to solve his many problems.

Kita, we feel the same way sometimes. We feel like God is ignoring us. We feel like he doesn’t care. We are tired of waiting for his answers and we are tired of waiting for him to solve our problems.

The first step here is to admit that, yes, we have problems. We also need to admit that we are not alone in facing them.

PANGAYO UG TABANG

The second P is pangayo ug tabang or pangayo bulig.

In verses 3 and 4, King David admitted that he cannot solve his problem on his own. He went down on his knees and asked God for help. This was his way of admitting that only God could help him.

This is not an easy feat. Sometimes, we are too proud to admit that we need God’s help. We rely so much on our very limited, very human selves. Sometimes, in the midst of our problems, we feel the need to act like everything is under our control…but deep inside, we are scared and helpless, and all we want to do is just give up.

I am honestly comforted by verses 3 and 4. They remind us that that it’s okay to feel lost.

It’s okay to feel lost…as long as we know who to turn to when we need direction.

It’s okay to feel lost…as long as we turn to Jesus for the direction to the right path.

Yes, we all need to be strong, and other people expect us to have the strength to carry on. But it’s important that we remember that we are only human and we need a source for our strength. And that source is Jesus.

So let’s admit that we have problems, and then remember to ask help from Jesus. Pangayo ug tabang.

PRAISE

The third P is praise.

Honestly, reading verses 5 and 6 really confused me.

In verses 1 to 4, King David was complaining and ranting and getting upset! But in the last two verses, King David was suddenly praising God. In Cebuano, we call that simang. A sudden deflection or diversion. How can you rant and complain and worry so much, and then suddenly praise God?

But to be honest, this is the part that really moved me. The part that really made an impact in my life.

What’s beautiful about verses 5 and 6 is the fact that King David praised God even before his prayers were answered. King David trusted God enough to know that whatever God’s answer would be, it would be for his own good…whether or not God’s answer is the same as the answer that King David wanted to hear.

If King David asked for victory in war, he would still praise God even if God gave him defeat…because King David trusts that the Lord is good and the Lord is kind and the Lord loves him so much.

Unta kita sad, we trust in the Lord’s goodness and kindness and love. Unta musalig ta kanunay sa iyang pagkabuotan ug pagkamahigugmaon. May we always remember and trust that God sees more than what we see, God knows more than what we know, and God loves us more than we could ever love ourselves.

Let us praise Him even when His answers to our prayers are different from the answers that we want or expect. Let us trust Him and His plan for our lives

I remember one time, my dad told us about his classmate from Manila. His classmate was invited by a friend for dinner. The classmate went to the friend’s house and he found out that the friend lived in a tiny house in the slums. The only food on the table were a plate of rice and a bowl of monggos (mung bean soup).

The classmate was thinking, “Oh wow. He invited me for dinner when all he could serve is a bowl of monggos? Well, that’s bold of him…” But he kept his mouth shut and went on with the visit. When they were at the table, the friend said, “Before we eat, let’s pray.”

And then friend bowed his head, closed his eyes, and prayed:

“Lord, thank You for all that You have given me. And thank You for all that You have withheld from me.”

In Cebuano, that’s: Guinoo, salamat sa tanan nga imong gihatag nako. Ug salamat sad sa tanan nga wala nimo gitugot nga ma-akoa.

I hope and pray that each and every one of us here starts–kicks off –a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. And, very importantly, I hope and pray that we all stay in that relationship even when we face big problems in life.

And during the times when we encounter problems, when things get really tough, I pray that we all remember to:

  • Admit that we have problems,
  • Pangayo ug tabang ni Jesus,
  • And we praise Jesus no matter what happens, because we trust in His goodness and love.

May we be reminded that Jesus sees more than what we see. Jesus knows more than what we know. And Jesus loves us more than even we could ever love ourselves.

Thank you and God bless.

“If life were fair, we’d get treated the way the we treat others, and if life were fair, we’d get paid exactly what we are worth. And in the end, we’d all get exactly what we deserve. So, son, maybe it’s better if life isn’t fair. Sometimes I’m thankful that life isn’t fair.”

– Mike Williams