May God Remember and Restore His People In Their Afflictions
13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.
17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us-
yes, establish the work of our hands.
Compassion for Crushing
Moses was a man who spent so much time, and time spent so closely with God, came back from his meetings with God with his face glowing. Moses, in this psalm, implores Almighty God to relent from His affliction upon the people. They had been afflicted for so long, that a generation of people had lived and died in affliction, only seeing difficulty, and never seeing rest.
Moses cries out and asks that God would have compassion on His people, and relent from His anger. How much do we do each day, whether in commission or omission, that angers God? Our affliction is often brought upon us as a character building exercise. We need to both remember that God is for us, and that we aren’t yet ready. It is OK to ask God to relent and to show us compassion. We are but a wisp of smoke, here now, fragile, and quickly dispersed.
Moses asks that God satisfy us by lavishing His love upon us. In the Western World, consumerism and competition vie for our efforts to earn more money to buy more things to supposedly satisfy and satiate our desires. The only real satisfaction we receive is when we are reconciled to God, and we experience His peace through His Love. It is only then that our restless hearts can be satisfied, and only with the love that He provides.
When we are satisfied by our relationship in God, we are much more able to experience joy in our hearts. We know in our minds that everything that God says is true. It is only after experiencing the truth of God’s love, and the truth of His word as it becomes real to us through experience, that we are truly able to tightly grasp our Savior, and cling to Him with joy and contentment. It is only then that we can set aside the desires to accumulate wealth and power and importance and other things that the world offers. For it is in the gentle, loving embrace of our Savior and Father and constant Companion that we are able to truly be satisfied.
Moses goes on to ask God to grant us a time of gladness that is in exact proportion to the time that we have spent in affliction. This may seem a little odd, as most people spend only a short time in affliction. But ask anyone who has been afflicted with difficulty for more that a decade, and they will tell you how difficult and life-changing it would be to be rid of their affliction, and to receive a commensurate time of gladness following the trial.
Oh, what joy that would be! To not only be rid of the constant pain that wounds and reminds us of its power in our lives, but that there can come a time of gladness. For when a person deals with prolonged pain, suffering, and misery (especially misery), it can seem that the time of gladness will not come until the sweet separation of the spirit from the body in death.
Moses asks that God lavish His love and compassion not only onto this generation, but to each successive generation of people as well. It is very important to parents that their children have every opportunity to thrive and survive, and generational, continual oppression through the wrath and anger of God and cause sane men and women to want to give up hope. But if their children can continue to receive the bountiful blessing that they have received, even late in life, the pain, suffering, and misery was worth it.
One of the ways that Moses asks that God blesses His people is to establish the work of their hands. Imagine that everything you did, no matter how spectacular or seemingly good, was immediately wasted or produced not real results. What if everything that you did had no lasting meaning. It is one of the most discouraging things that can happen to a man is to realize that all of their efforts came to nothing – that everything they did and worked for had no meaning.
While we should all find our meaning in Christ, men are wired to also find meaning in the successful labors of their hands and hearts. When that comes to nothing, it can have a devastating effect upon people. Moses therefore asks God to establish the work of God’s people’s hands, that they can look back upon their efforts and see that they did not waste their life and energy in vain.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: How do we cope with constant, unending, unyielding affliction?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, everything that You do is right, and You can do no evil. Give me strength and courage as I remember Your character, for my affliction in great, and my suffering severe. Have compassion upon me, Lord, and relent from Your anger towards me. Though You use these trials to shape and mold my character, I ask that You remember me – act divinely upon my behalf – and restore me as You did Job once my trials have been completed. Please do not leave me in my affliction without recourse, for I hope to believe that there is relief apart from death. And once You have finished Your work in these trials, I ask, Lord God, that You give me as many years of joy and gladness as you have sorrow and misery. Remember me through all of this, Lord God. Amen.