The reason that we love the Psalms when going through difficult times is because they speak into our hearts. The experiences of the psalmists are highly relatable as we are able to see how they looked at life and looked at God. Psalm 31 describes difficult circumstances in David’s life.
9 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. 10 For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. 11 Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. 12 I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. 13 For I hear the whispering of many— terror on every side!— as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. (Psalm 31:9–13 ESV)
The anguish David experiences is something that we can relate to when enduring trials. His eyes, his body, and his soul are worn out from grief. Who has not felt full body exhaustion from the suffering that comes from our life trials? Notice in verse 10 he says that he is experiencing this pain because of his own sins. Often our suffering comes from our own sins or the sins of others. So whatever the reason or cause of our suffering, what should you do when you are in distress?
First, David turns to the Lord (31:1-5). Notice that David thinks of the Lord is his rock, his fortress, and his refuge. God is the place to run to when going through difficult times. Sometimes we can be tempted to run away from the Lord when times are tough. We may think that we need to set God aside while we try to work out our own problems. But David understands that God is only hope during hardships. We need more of God in our lives in trials. We need more time in prayer, more time in worship, more time in God’s word, more time when spiritual encouragers, and more time meditating on God’s ways in our lives.
Second, David trusts the Lord to carry him through this ordeal (31:14-20). Unfortunately, the phrase “trusting in the Lord” has been so overused in the religious world that it has almost lost all meaning to those who hear it. An important aspect of trusting in the Lord is that we believe in God’s goodness to carry us through whatever we are experiencing (31:19). In verse 14, David still claims the Lord to be his God. He knows that his life is in God’s hands (31:15). We believe that our lives are in God’s hands and he will act for our good.
Finally, David will look for the Lord to respond with steadfast love (31:21-24). David declares that the Lord heard his cries for help and heard his pleas for mercy (31:22). After turning to and trusting in the Lord, David has seen the Lord carry him through. Now he turns to the people of God and tells them to be strong, take courage, and look for the Lord to help you in your difficulty (31:23-24). How God helped David is a model for all to trust in the Lord and look for God to help us through our pains in life.
Jesus becomes a beautiful model of these revealed truths. In the midst of proclaiming the Lord as his rock, David also says, “Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God” (Psalm 31:5 ESV). In the Gospel of Luke, these words are recorded as the final words of Jesus from the cross. Jesus had turned to the Father in prayer in the garden before his arrest, as well as throughout his life. Jesus trusted in the Lord to carry him through the suffering of the cross. Finally, Jesus looked for the Father to respond with steadfast love. The Father responded by raising Jesus from the dead and seating him at his right hand with all power, authority, and kingship.
God’s faithfulness and steadfast love does not mean that his people will not suffer. David suffered and Jesus suffered. God’s faithfulness and steadfast love means he will get you through your suffering. He will never leave you or forsake you. Turn to him, trust him, and look for him to respond with steadfast love in your life.