David’s life is in shambles. His family is falling apart as death and distrust and murder and rape run rampant. He is fleeing for his life as his own son has started a coup to take over the Kingdom. Part of the country is longing for him to stay, the other part is longing for him to go and the most frustrating development is that David is unsure who is on his side and who is against him. Who can he trust and who needs to be avoided. If not for a few faithful friends who risked everything to protect him, David would already be dead. As it is, he is running for his life while a majority of his own army is trying to chase him down to kill him.
It’s in the midst of this horror, a horror that would drive most people into the depths of depression, that David most likely pens the words to Psalm 63:
“O God, you are my God. Earnestly I seek you. My soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will praise you. I will bless you as long as I live and in your name I will lift up my hands.” (Psalm 63:1-4)
And the question must be asked, How? How does one in the midst of a personal tragedy that is destroying everything around them still thirst for God? How does one who has been promised God’s protection see that protection slip away and still want to be with God? It would make perfect sense for David to cry out curses against God for thrusting him into this situation. No one would belittle David for asking questions of why and calling on God to give an answer for his deeds. Everyone knows David is not perfect, his sin in some ways has been broadcast to the nation as he steals a wife and murders her husband. Yet even in his sin most would give him the benefit of the doubt if he struggles to be close to God in the midst of the tragedy that has become his life.
However, that’s not how David responds. As tragedy has enveloped him David turns towards God instead of away. As his world is falling apart, instead of blaming God, David turns to the one solid foundation he can still count on, the rock that will not be shaken. As David questions and wonders what his future will hold he decides that no matter what he will stay close to God because it is only with God that his “soul is satisfied as with a rich feast.” He will think of God through the watches of the night and he will cling to the Lord and allow God’s hands to uphold him.
That attitude is not easy, in fact it may be the most difficult to obtain because it goes against our natural tendencies. Our natural tendency when tragedy strikes is to blame God or question God or simply dismiss God. The reasoning often used is that if God is all powerful and could have stopped it then he either does not care that tragedy has struck or he caused the tragedy to strike in the first place. Either reason is unacceptable, which often drives us farther and farther away from God, questioning his love more and more until our faith is weak and we quit believing all together.
But David challenges us with a different option. David avoids the questions of how and why and simply clings to the only thing that is solid and will not move. As his life is falling apart instead of spending his time questioning why it is happening he thirsts for the one source of water that will always fulfill and sustain. When he can rely on nothing else he finds the one sure thing, God, and he holds on with all of his might. It doesn’t take away the tragedy, but it saves his soul.
It may seem naive on David’s part to cling to God even when it doesn’t make sense. To desperately long for God even when he doesn’t seem to be responding to life’s troubles. The intellectually mature would scoff at David’s response as unintelligent and primitive using this as a reason to dismiss God as an irrelevant conception of our own imagination. And yet there is something child like about faith that calls for us to trust God even against our natural senses and knowledge. To believe in God even when no one else will. And to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that our Abba, our father, will always protect us.
Maybe that’s why Jesus says, “if you want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven you must become like a little child.” When tragedy strikes instead of spending our resources wondering why, maybe we should spend our resources seeking and thirsting for a God who is steadfast and strong and will not be moved. Then, like David, we can find hope in the midst of the storm.