… yet I will be confident (Psalm 27:3)
On the wall hung photographs of her children. I looked at them and she mentioned all their names. The one is married and already has three children. The other one has been living together with someone for a few years already. The third one, sad to say, has separated. And the youngest son has a friend now.
Yes, she sighed, nowadays all that is possible. But the worst part of it is that they no longer believe. They do not attend church anymore. The oldest has made profession of faith and says that he cannot quite let it go yet. But to the others it means nothing anymore.
What a sorrow you taste then. A sorrow which is greater than the sorrow over her husband, who died in faith. Of him she just knows that he is at home. But she cannot say that about her children. If one of them would come to pass away, then … “That is why I also pray for them,” she confided to me. “Every evening I mention their names and I ask if God will be gracious to them.”
At such a moment the word yet receives an extra dimension. A mother who, despite her sorrow and amid so many setbacks, yet keeps on trusting.
How is that possible? Where do people such as David and this mother obtain the strength to keep it up? For, that someone perseveres in prayer and in faith is certainly not a matter of course. I also know parents who are so deflated spiritually that they have resigned themselves to the seemingly inevitable. Some parents are so disappointed in God that they have followed the trail of their children and also have distanced themselves from faith in God.
And yet David and that mother sound different. “Yet I will be confident,” says David in Psalm 27. No, he does not say that when everything goes easy for him, and things are coming along just fine. That shows from the other verses, where it relates to evildoers, adversaries, and false witnesses. And yet, despite that he keeps trusting in God.
How is that possible? It is possible because David finds something with God that he cannot find anywhere else. What is that, you ask? Listen to what David himself says about that. With God he finds shelter and protection. With God he can go further. Through David’s words you already hear something of the surety of faith in Romans 8. David knows well that nothing can separate him from God. The enemies cannot do that. Even death cannot do that. Therefore, David can say it like this, “Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will remain confident.”
The sorrow of the mother about her children is the sorrow of very many parents and grandparents. The reasons that people disengage are varied. The one doesn’t like the dos and don’ts. The other has tried it but doesn’t feel anything.
Now obviously we can discuss this with them and try to counter their arguments. But we will perhaps not be successful in doing that. But what we can do is to show them what believing means to us. Not only with words, but also with deeds. If our faith is no more than formalities such as praying for our meals and attending church on Sunday, then young people will see through that. What touches people is a measure of authenticity. That we act upon what we say and that we show from whom we expect things in this life.
Young people need people they can identify with in their search for God, to whom they can mirror themselves and who stimulate them to go the way with God.
In all this, prayer is also of utmost importance. The prayer of that mother for her children. The prayer for people who are an example in the faith and can encourage our young people to go the way with God. There lies also a task for the church, to pray for these parents regularly in the worship services. The prayer for perseverance in faith and, just like David, to continue to have trust. Exactly there lies the deepest secret of the yet and of a living faith. Praying as the breathing of faith. Prayer as means to receive the Holy Spirit. The Spirit who guides us. The Spirit who helps us to keep trusting. And if everything goes differently than we had hoped and thought, then it is through the Spirit that we can say with David: “Yet I will be confident.”
This article was translated by Bram Vegter.