God in Affliction
“For He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and He has not hidden His face from him, but has heard, when he cried to Him.” (Psalm 22:24)
King David knew a thing or two about despair. Throughout his life, he had multitudes of enemies, often within his own family. From the day of his legendary fight with Goliath, he was a warrior, and that profession often placed him in great danger. There were many people who wanted to kill him, many people who hated him. But it was all bearable so long as he knew God was still with him. Sometimes, however, it seemed as if even He had abandoned David. In such a time, this poet-warrior truly knew desperation.
Psalm 22 is an honest outpouring of grief, written by a man who is overwhelmed with his circumstances and is terrified that even God has forsaken him. “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” the psalm begins. “Why are You so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” (22:1) David reminds himself of Who God is, trying to lift his spirits. But then he once again remembers the abundance of enemies seeking his life, and the dread of them is hard to shake off. David described his antagonists as strong bulls and ravening lions set on devouring him. They seem to have bested him, and there is nothing more he can do.
But surely, surely God has not abandoned him! David begs God to come to his aid, remembering once again that He is the glorious I AM of Israel. He is the God Who hears the cries of His people, Who will not hide His face from them when they are in need. “The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied,” David exults; “those who seek Him shall praise the LORD!” (22:26) Though it seemed for a time that God had forsaken him, David once again realizes that He has been there all along. And what is more, He has never blamed David for his troubles; “He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted.” (22:24) Though David was in trouble, God was still there, comforting him in the midst of his troubles and bringing him out once again to a good place.
Most likely, we’ve all been in David’s place at some point in our lives. Perhaps you’ve never been in as dramatic a situation as David, but troubles come in all forms and fashions. Something as simple as an impossible amount of work can seem just as terrifying as a threat to your life. Whatever the case, you’ve almost certainly been in a place where you’ve felt like the world is against you and God cares nothing about you anymore. But in times like these, we cannot rely on our feelings. Even though it doesn’t feel like it, God is still there, waiting to comfort you. No matter how horrible things may be, God has never and will never abandon you. He doesn’t despise you for going through a hard time; instead, He’s eager to go through it with you. David overcame his despair by realizing anew what a powerful, loving God he served. His God is our God. We can draw the exact same strength from Him, and with David, we can proclaim to the world just how great God is: the One Who has not left us to our despair but has lifted us out to place of glorious wonder!