It was a cute piece–a small wooden platter with a cross-stitched inset. The visual featured a bright bowl of fruit, highlighting a heartwarming psalm quoted beneath it. My daughter and I were thrifting, one of our favorite hobbies, when I stumbled on the little wood tray with its lovely handiwork. Mid-century modern is my vibe, and I am always hunting for treasures. It was the sentimentally, sweet kind of thing that would make me smile at my Great Aunt Mil’s house; she was definitely mid-century. At the enviable price of $3.00, I snatched it right up.
Days later, unpacking my finds, I actually noticed the verse and its attribution; “I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:6, ESV). It was Psalm 13! I often work through Psalm 13 in sessions, but not because it is uplifting and syrupy sweet. I talk through it with counselees who struggle under a load of unrelenting pain. Psalm 13 accurately traces the mess in David’s life and his desperation. It's a psalm of lament, of heartache and disillusionment, where David screams out his depression and despair. His emotional tone and utter transparency reflect the depth of his suffering; “How long O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:1-2). David’s pain is real, and it’s raw. This is not a sugary psalm.
In the world we inhabit, Psalm 13 hits the mark. When we wade through brokenness, David’s words make sense. We fear the heat will never stop. We don’t know if we’ll make it through unscathed. Like David, we visualize our enemies gloating over our destruction; “my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ and my foes will rejoice when I fall” (Psalm 13:4).
The despair of Psalm 13 does not seem to fit with its confident, joyful conclusion. How do you reconcile the suffering described at the beginning of the psalm with the cross-stitched sentiment at its end?
The two dichotomies align only through faith in God’s love and mercy. God’s mercy is the present and future power David grasps and holds. It might be hard to see now, he seems to tell himself, but it will come into focus. Clarity will come. In Psalm 13, the bridge verse makes all the difference; “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation (v. 5).
Each one of us feels abandoned, overwhelmed, and slammed sometimes. Our broken past, the stress we feel in the present, and the fears we hold of the future, all tend to bubble up. When they do, the truth of our salvation is essential. God deals bountifully with us in so many ways. Through both tangible gifts, and the intangible experiential growth that comes through suffering, he blesses. By walking close to us through trials, and using them to foster our dependence on him, God sanctifies. In both the darkness and the light, God is good.
Christ’s sacrifice has miraculously cross-stitched despair and joy together, both now and eternally. His blood is our great bounty–an incredibly sweet inheritance that is ours forever.
As we celebrate five years of God’s bountiful hand on the work of Fieldstone Counseling, we ask you to consider financially supporting us. Fieldstone’s scholarship program makes the biblically-based, Christ-centered, clinically informed care we provide available to everyone, through the generosity of gracious donors. Would you consider supporting our caregiving ministry today?
Crystal is a Christ-follower, wife, mother, counselor, and friend. She is passionate about connecting others with the truth of God's miraculous power and sustaining presence.