At age 46 Peter Marshall, chaplain of the United States Senate, died of a heart attack. Soon after he died, his wife, Catherine Marshall, stood beside his body. Later she wrote how the presence of God comforted her:
“As I opened the door,” she wrote, “there was the instantaneous awareness that I was not alone. Yet the man I loved was not in the still form on the bed. I knew that Peter was near and alive. And beside him was another presence of transcendent glory, the Lord he had served through long years.” God stood beside Catherine to comfort her in her deepest grief.
In this psalm, the writer found himself feeling so alone, so seemingly abandoned by God, that he was plunged into a deep depression and despair that took him to the edge of death. He was wrestling with his thoughts. His sorrow was overwhelming.
Perhaps you can relate to such feelings. Perhaps you know what it’s like when your thoughts are whirling around in aching confusion. You may know what it’s like to plead with God for light, for peace, for an alternative to the spiritual death you think is imminent.
Then comes the “but.” The psalmist, even as he was suffering terribly, stopped himself with that little word. David chose to trust in God’s goodness even when his heart was failing and grieving. Because he knew God, he chose to trust in God’s unfailing love and rejoice even in the midst of sorrow.
Did you get that? He said, “But . . . I will” (verses 5–6). The psalmist made a choice. He made a conscious decision to trust in God’s love even when the dark clouds of terror and depression hid God’s face.
David knew this as a fact. And you can know it too: You are never alone. God is always nearby . . . even when you can’t see his face or feel his presence. When you feel alone, call out to him. No matter how you feel, the fact remains: He is here. He is everywhere. And he hears your cries.
Have you experienced a time when you couldn’t feel God’s presence? When?
How did you respond? What did you do?
Based on your understanding of Psalm 13, what will you do next time you find yourself feeling this way?
Psalm 13:5–6 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.