In pastoral ministry, we are constantly being challenged to live by faith. Our natural tendency is to slip back into decision-making that is based on our feelings and not on our faith in God.
The feelings that dominate our decision-making are rooted in fear, self-preservation, frustration, discouragement, and anger. As a pastor, I cannot make ministry decisions (or even life decisions) based on how I feel or how I think someone else may react. I must make decisions based on truth, trust, and confidence in God.
Psalm 13 gives us a good picture of decision-making that shifts from feelings to faith.
What do we know about David?
- He was the son of Jesse.
- He was a shepherd.
- He killed Goliath, the Philistine giant.
- He was chosen by God to be king over Israel.
- He was a man after God’s own heart.
We don’t know the setting of this Psalm but we do know that it is at a time when David is in anguish. It may be one of the times when David is being hunted by Saul, falsely accused of treason, viciously attacked, and treated as a criminal.
David’s Sorrow (Psalm 13:1-2)
- The question, “How long?” is repeated four times in the chapter. (Psalm 13:1-2)
Will you forget me forever? David’s fear is that God has forgotten him. How long will You hide Your face from me?
David’s fear has caused him to focus on his feelings. He feels that God has turned away from him, no longer cares about him, and no longer is involved in his life. David is overwhelmed with fear and he is focused on his feelings.
David continues to ask the question, “How long?”
- How long must I be discouraged?
- To take “counsel in my soul” is to be discouraged.
- David is focused on his circumstances and his feelings of sorrow and discouragement are multiplying. The emotions are heavy and relentless.
David realizes his own inability to deal with his situation.
- How long must I be defeated? As his enemies appear to gain victory, David spirals downward into despair.
To this point in the Psalm, David is acting on his feelings. He feels forgotten. He feels abandoned. He feels discouraged. He feels afraid. He feels like he is losing.
“Feelings cannot be the determining factor, only truth. Until feelings are confronted with truth, feelings will continue to dominate and chaos will reign.”
Ron Cook, co-founder of Care for Pastors.
David takes the first step towards truth when he turns to the LORD in prayer.
David’s Supplication (Psalm 13:3-4)
There is a shift that takes place in these verses. We can see that David has turned from his circumstances, his fears, and his emotions. He turns toward the Lord in prayer.
David also asks God to give light to his eyes. This reminds us of the prayer in Psalm 119:18 – “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things out of Your law.” David has shifted his focus to the LORD. This is an appropriate prayer when we are facing overwhelming circumstances and fears.
David understands that if God doesn’t come to the rescue he may die. He realizes that only God can fix his situation. Only God can provide protection and deliverance. Only God can rescue him from his enemies and from himself.
David’s Salvation (Psalm 13:5-6)
Another shift has taken place in these verses. David’s circumstances have not changed but David’s focus has changed. He is still hunted by his enemies. He is still facing overwhelming challenges. He is still surrounded by those who hate him and want to destroy him. He still does not have the power to fix what is wrong. But he has turned to the ONE who is able.
Notice the choices that David makes.
- He chooses to trust in God’s steadfast love. “God, I don’t understand what is happening or why it is happening but I do know that you love me with an unchanging, unfailing love.”
- He chooses to rejoice in God’s saving power. “God, I don’t know how and I don’t know when, but I do know that you will deliver me.”
- He chooses to worship the LORD. “God, you have always been faithful and you are always worthy of worship.” I worship You for You are God.
The circumstances have not changed but David has changed.
How do I move from feelings to faith?
Don’t mistake God’s silence for God’s absence.
- “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
- Silence does not mean that God is inactive.
- Silence does not mean that God doesn’t care.
- Silence does not mean that God is has forgotten you.
Trusting God is a choice we make and not an emotion we feel.
- God is all about relationship.
- He has a plan.
- He has made promises.
- He has the power to deliver you and to fix whatever needs to be fixed.
- He is fully in control – TRUST HIM.
Don’t allow feelings to become the determining factor in your decisions.
- “Feelings cannot be the determining factor, only truth. Until feelings are confronted with truth, feelings will continue to dominate and chaos will reign.”
Learn to live out of the truth of your position in Christ.
- Every feeling of fear, discouragement, frustration, anger, anxiety, abandonment, and despair, must be confronted with the truth.
- “Because of Christ’s redemption, I am a new creation of great worth. I am deeply loved, completely forgiven, fully pleasing, totally accepted by God, and absolutely complete in Christ.”