RESPONSE TO AND I WILL PRAISE HIM
Because I have spent a great deal of my time in ministry working with homeless people, the chapter in the book And I Will Praise Him entitled “When God Seems Far Away” was most important to me.
This chapter focuses on Psalm 13, a psalm of lament. As in other psalms of lament, Psalm 13 has three basic pronouns used in expressing distress. On page 154, Dr. Allen explains how these pronouns are used, “I am hurting, You (God) do not care, and they (the enemy) is winning.” This basic use of pronouns in lamenting is similar to everything we pray and talk about in relation to people’s lives who live at the shelter.
On page 161, of Dr. Allen's book And I Will Praise Him, he states: “It seems that the Spirit, knowing our tendencies, allowed David to challenge this basic aspect of God’s character, only to have his challenge refuted and his faith strengthened in the loyal love of God.” I have had conversations at the shelter on many occasions about whether or not God loves those who are walking through a time in their lives where they feel they are in the deepest depth of despair. I loved the thought that David approached God with an honest heart. He challenges a basic aspect of God’s loving character and God refutes David’s challenge. God can handle the criticism, but He is going to refute the claim. God wants us to be honest with Him, though.
The rest of the statement on page 161, to me, is what is critically important. To further quote what Dr. Allen said, “It is through the catharsis of suffering that David’s stand of faith in Yahweh’s essential loving loyalty is strengthened.” God is always in the business of strengthening our faith and not leaving us where we are spiritually. It seems to me that in many cases, when we are living through suffering, there is an eternal purpose involved. Sometimes these eternal purposes come in the form of tests (Genesis 22; Hebrews 11:17), sometimes trials (James 1) and sometimes they are due to our own negligence or sins.