“You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
Then my enemies will turn back
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.” (Psalm 56:8-9, ESV)
David, as many Christians know, was appointed and anointed to be king over Israel at a very young age, possibly in his teenage years while he was tending sheep. So unlikely was he to be the candidate, he wasn’t even invited to meet with the prophet Samuel when he came to see all of David’s family. As the Biblical account goes on to share, not only was he to be Israel’s king, but it took a number of years before it finally happened.
It’s believed he penned this psalm while the Philistines were trying to seize him at Gath (see 1 Samuel 21:10 to 22:2 for the account). It was during this season, a number of years, that David lived in fear for his life on the run from King Saul, who repeatedly attempted to kill him for no other reason than basically the call of God on his life was a threat to Saul’s. I can only imagine what kind of praying David must have done during this time of his life, growing weary of wondering if the promise to become king over Israel would ever come true, since after all these years it still wasn’t even close to happening. In fact, I’m sure as David looked at the circumstances he found himself in, it was almost as though it could never come true. But God saw the end of the matter, even if like David, we ourselves can sometimes only see the circumstances that surround us.
In this Psalm, David spoke of weeping tears, but knowing that God was storing them up in a bottle. His tears were precious in the sight of God. David’s struggles were not forgotten or ignored by God. How often we too have poured out our souls in bitter distress to God, wondering if He even heard us when we cried out to Him. Wondering if His very promise was not in fact some kind of cruel joke He was playing on us, and we awaited the punchline hoping something good may yet still come of it?
Recently during a layover I had in a major American city, while flying on my way back to Lima, Peru where I serve as a missionary, a friend picked me up and took me to lunch. She was unfamiliar with the area surrounding the airport, and used a Tomtom GPS device to get there and take me to a mall about 15 km away from the airport. As we looked at the computerized directions on the screen, indicating the estimated amount of time it would take to get there, as well as which turns to take, all we could see ahead of ourselves through the windshield were the roads and intersections ahead as we approached them. From just looking immediately ahead as we navigated through traffic, we could not tell you how far we were from our destination, or how much longer it would take to get there, but the GPS navigator could. We put our confidence in it to take us where we wanted to go.
Beloved, you may be looking at the path ahead of you, wondering if there’s any end in sight to the circumstances you may find yourself in, or wondering how much longer before the promise will come to fulfillment, but in God’s point of view–He sees the end of the thing from the beginning. He’s got the bird-eye view and sees all the twists and turns He’s taking you through. You and I can read the account of David’s life in the first and second books of Samuel, and we know the outcome and the further challenges he went through as king. But as David went through these particular struggles, he didn’t have such confidence other than to put his hope and trust in the God of Israel, and that what God said would come to pass, would in fact come to pass.
Emptying Us That He May Fill Us
We see the same pattern in the life of Moses. It’s stated in Acts 7:25 “He (Moses) supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand.” It’s implied here that when God first began to stir Moses’ heart to become a deliverer of the people of Israel, he understood the call. He believed it would be evident to everybody, but it wasn’t. Before God could use him, he had to strip him of all his self-sufficiency. Moses was raised in the Pharaoh’s house, received the best education, and yet God would take the next 40 years stripping him of that in the backside of the desert in order to prepare him FOR the call on his life. If God didn’t, Moses might have continued killing Egyptian soldiers and burying them in the sand, and at that rate, if he buried one per day, he’d never have seen Israel get delivered!1
I’ve expounded on this in a previous post of mine, Empty Vessels Fit For Filling, but it bears repeating here, that the more emptiness you can present to God, the more of His fullness you can receive. We cannot be filled until we are empty, and sometimes it’s THOSE seasons in the wilderness, where we feel our most lonely or our most deserted, that we are actually being fashioned for the season or moment when the breakthrough or the entrance into the promise will finally make itself manifest. We may not understand how come everything is going the way it is while we’re driving down the road just following the GPS instructions, but God knows where He’s taking us and why there’s some wildernesses and caves along the way.
The Breakthrough; In God’s Timing and Ways
In the meantime, as a mentor of mine, S.J. Hill says, “Hunger is born out of desperation and Father God is drawn to hunger like a magnet.”2 When God births, He births out of barrenness; when He builds, He builds out of brokenness. Allow me to encourage you dear friend, that
The longer the time of delay, the greater the joy when the answer comes. More than that, the change that happens to us in the process will protect us when the answer comes.3
You are being made for something great, and the fiery trials are only designing you for the breakthrough;
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)
Hang in there and stay encouraged!