Psalms 13:5 NLT reads:
But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
As I read and re-read this passage this morning, the thing that really stuck in my Spirit was the tense of the words the author chose.
Preceding verse five, the author was crying out to God, asking Him how long will he endure struggle, imploring our Savior to answer him, to show up.
But then we get to verse five and something amazing happens. The sense of woe ends sharply and, if we look closely enough, we see a change — not in the author’s circumstances, but in his perspective.
Verse five begins with the word “but.” The word “but” can play a number of roles in English grammar. It can be a preposition, an adverb. However, in this use I believe it’s most important as a conjunction, a word to add together groups of words. That’s what’s important to note: even though a change is occurring in the author, nothing has changed in his circumstances. Rather, he’s chosen to use what he’s going through as a part of what’s to come.
Further, any good grammarian will also point out that the use of “but” also signifies that everything before it is now inconsequential in reference to what will follow.
My bills are due and I don’t know how I’m going to pay them, BUT…
My body is ill and the doctors say they don’t know what more they can do, BUT…
The vision You gave me is too big/expensive/scary and I don’t know if I can accomplish it BUT…
They said they’d always be there for me, and they’re gone now that I need them, BUT…
It feels like I’m going through this all alone, BUT…
The verse goes on, after signaling a change in the author’s perspective to say, “But I trust in your unfailing love.”
“I trust.” That’s current. That’s present. That’s now. And, following the author’s please for response, and then his decision to shift his focus, “I trust” being present tense tells us that even though all hell was breaking out in this man’s life, the hell didn’t negate his faith. In essence he’s showing us that even as he’s going through it and doesn’t know how much more he can or even when God will will show up, he still trusts in God’s unfailing love.
The author knows that no matter how badly it hurts, or how uncomfortable what he’s going through is, his circumstances do not affect or reflect the fact that God loves him and that God’s love never fails. It never falters. It never doesn’t reach us. It never judges us. It never decides to show up today and not tomorrow. It never abandons us because we’ve sinned or doubted. God’s love just is.
You need to know that trials and trust are not and should not be mutually exclusive in your life. They will not be exclusive. In fact, this scripture shows us that trust in the Lord is ever more important when we’re going through our trials. That trust is a reminder that we aren’t in it alone, that God still cares, and that He isn’t oblivious to what we’re going through. Trials and trust in God go hand in hand.
The verse then goes on to say, “I will rejoice because you have rescued me.”
Now this is where it gets really good, where the “but” has shown us that the author’s perspective is changing, and the “I trust” show us what the author’s two conflicting states of mind are, “I will rejoice” shows us a decision.
“Will” is future tense. It also reflects a decision. The author, even though he’s going through hell, even though it doesn’t appear that God has reached out to save him, he knows that in spite of his uncomfortable circumstances that God still loves him unfailing. And, as a result of that knowledge, the author decides that he will rejoice.
Right there in the midst of his hell.
Right there in the midst of his storm, his trial, his going through.
Right there with the overdrawn bank account.
Right there with the 100th no call back after applying for a job.
Right there with the raggedy car that won’t start.
Right there with the daycare closed and no way for you to watch the kids and go to work.
Right there with the rent/mortgage being due and no money to pay it.
Right there with that unreliable friend/partner.
Right there in the midst of those silent cries alone at night.
Right in the thick of it, the author decides, no matter what it looks like or feels like, I am going to rejoice. And that’s an important decision because the Bible tells us that when we choose to celebrate in the midst of our adversity it confuses the enemy.
In fact, when I looked at the word “rejoice” in my concordance, I learned this:
- the original word used here is a Hebrew verb
- in the Bible it’s used to mean to exult and to be glad
- Strong’s Concordance goes on to define it as “to spin around (under the influence of any violent emotion)…be glad, joy, be joyful…”
Whoa. “To spin around under the influence of any violent emotion.” To me, that means that all of the anger, the fear, the frustration, the helplessness, the pain, and every other intense emotion the author was feeling as he cried out to God in the beginning of the chapter was still there.
Even as he decided to change his perspective, he then decided he would force himself to be glad, pouring out all of the negative emotions the enemy wanted to use to oppress and depress him as positive praise for a God that never fails — even, and especially, when hell is breaking out all around us.
Then the verse continues with, “because you have rescued me.”
“Because” is a preposition here. It’s setting us up to understand why. Everything that comes after because tells us why the author’s perspective changed and why he forced himself to praise God in the middle of his turmoil.
And why did he, you ask? “Because you [God] has rescued me.”
Don’t miss that: “rescued” is past tense.
It’s already done.
Before this storm erupted. Before all hell broke loose. Before I lost all my money. Before he or she walked out. Before the doctor gave me the diagnosis. Before the bills became due. Before I lost my job. Before I cried myself to sleep.
Before it all even happened, God had already rescued you. He’d already saved you. He’d already provided. He’d already blessed you. He’d already made a way.
And get this, once a person or a thing has been rescued, that which threatened them can no longer harm them.
So before you started “going through” God had already seen to it that what you would go through wouldn’t hurt you, couldn’t hurt you.
That means that before the storm even erupted in your life, God had already made you victorious over it.
Look, tense matters. Tense matters in this scripture because it reminds us that everything that happened before we were saved, before we prayed, before we rejoiced, before we decided to worship God is no longer important and never could touch us.
And tense matters because if you’re still overcome with the emotion your circumstances have you feeling, then this scripture is a roadmap to peace.
Tense matters because where you are has no bearing on WHOSE you are or where you WILL be.
Tense matters because if He did it back then. If He did it before. He’s the same God, with the same unfailing love. He WILL show up and show out on your behalf this time, too.
Tense matters because how we choose our thoughts and words dictates whether we remain stuck in a place where we’re telling our God — Who’s already saved us — about our problems, or whether we’ll choose to move to a place where we tell our problems about our God.
Tense matters because we have the God-given authority to change our circumstances, to speak life and death to situations in our lives based solely on the words we speak.
So tense matters. Because you can be going through forever, or you can choose to celebrate the victory you already had now.
It matters. It matters to God. It matters to your storm. It matters for you.