Holding On (Psalm 27:13-14)
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! —Psalm 27:13-14
She is losing nearly everything to follow Jesus. I first met Jackie [name changed] a couple of months ago when she began attending worship. Her brothers, devoted Jehovah’s Witnesses, have disowned her as an apostate. Last week her mother expressed disgust over Jackie’s newfound faith and cut her off permanently. And, as if these losses weren’t painful enough, the man Jackie loves is perplexed by her desire to be baptized and become part of the church. He wants nothing to do with it. To use Rosaria Butterfield’s image, Jackie’s conversion has been a train wreck.
So many obstacles. So many opponents. What do you say to a woman in Jackie’s situation? You might say, “Have you ever read Psalm 27? Let’s read it together.”
Psalm 27 is meant to sustain our faith through impossible situations. From beginning to end, the psalm is filled with “evildoers” and “adversaries” and “foes” and “enemies” and “false witnesses.” It echoes with the sounds of wild beasts, armies, and men breathing out violence. Jackie can relate to these problems, albeit on a smaller scale than King David. Most likely you can relate, too.
The day of trouble is no respecter of persons. Most of us at some point find ourselves in an impossible situation—a time when our back is against the wall, and all the lights go out, and a threatening claw grips our neck. If you’ve been there, you know what it’s like. In that moment your sense of resourcefulness evaporates, and you realize what was true all along: faith is all you’ve got. You have nowhere to turn but the Lord; you must wait for him to act on your behalf; if he doesn’t come through, you’re sunk. Derek Kidner describes this type of waiting as “holding on with naked faith” (Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72, TOTC, 139).
Some people would tell us that we’re wasting our time waiting for the Lord. But there is nothing unreasonable about trusting God, especially in impossible situations. Our faith may be naked, but it isn’t crazy.
Who is this Lord on whom you wait? He is your light, your salvation, your stronghold, your defender. He is beautiful and gracious. He is the lifter of your head. David celebrates these characteristics of the Lord all throughout the psalm. In light of who the Lord is, it would seem that waiting on him is the most reasonable thing you could ever do.
There is no hint of craziness in David’s confidence: “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” David knew what God was like, and so he knew that God would rescue him. We know it too, in an even fuller sense. Jesus, the Son of David, has risen from the dead. And he will lose nothing of all that God has given him, but will raise it up on the last day (John 6:39). Believer, whether you live or die in your impossible situation, you will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Jesus has seen to it.
So wait on the Lord. Be strong. Take courage. You will be happy to hear that that is what Jackie is doing. I do not believe her train-wreck conversion will be the end of her. How could it be, if the God of Psalm 27 comes to her rescue? What more do any of us need in our day of trouble? In Jackie’s words, “He’s worth it.”