The Wisdom Hunter

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me.

Look on me and answer, O Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,
for he has been good to me.”
(Psalm 13:1-6 NIV)

Excerpts from “Wisdom Hunter” by Randall Arthur (Questar Pub) Chapter 27 pages 237-240.

…Yoma, his worn Bible in hand, turned to Psalm 13 and asked Jason to read all six verses in the chapter.

Jason complied. He took the bible from Yoma and read the psalm slowly and thoughtfully. Then he looked up to await Yoma’s instruction.

“The chapter is written by King David. Tell me, Jason. If God truly forgot David, as David says in verse one — then how did God at the same time truly love David unceasingly, as David says in verse five?”

Before Jason could frame a suitable answer, Yoma fired a second question.

“David also says in verse one the God hid his face from him.
At the same time, in verse six, David says God was good to him. How does Jason explain David’s contradiction?”

This time Jason made no immediate attempt to answer. He could tell by Yoma’s intensity that the pastor was not yet ready to talk about answers.

“In verse two, “ Yoma continued, “David says he wrestled with many thoughts and had sorrow in his heart every day.
But in verse six David says he sang with joy at the same time.

“In verse two David says his enemy was triumphing over him.
But in verse five David says God was delivering him for the enemy.

“Does Jason see the discrepancy?”

Jason answered carefully. “Yes, I see what can possibly be viewed as a discrepancy. But I’m sure it appears that way only because I don’t understand the psalm.”

“Ahh…but Jason does understand the psalm,” Yoma corrected him gently. “Yesterday when Jason discovered that his grand-daughter was taken away again, did he feel loved or unloved by God?”

“Not loved,” Jason replied truthfully.

“Yes, Jason felt that way. Bud did Jason believe that way?”

There was silence. Jason thought about the question then gave a sober answer: “No, I cannot say I believed I was unloved by God. If I really believed God didn’t love me, I would have completely give up on him long ago.”

“Exactly,” Yoma replied. “Jason has felt unloved by God many times, but at the same time Jason has always wanted to believe the opposite. Jason has always wanted to believe the opposite. Jason has always wanted to believe God somehow loved him.”

The psalm now clicked in Jason’s head, and he looked again at the verses. “So you’re saying the apparent discrepancies in the chapter are simply the differences between David’s feelings and David’s beliefs” You’re saying David FELT like God had forgotten him, while at the same time he really BELIEVED God’s love for him was unceasing?”

Yoma quietly nodded.

Jason continued with excitement: “David FELT God had hidden his face from him, but he BELIEVED God was somehow being good to him behind the scenes. He FELT the pains of inner sorrow, but he BELIEVED he had every reason in the world to sing. He FELT his enemy was defeating him, but he BELIEVED God’s unseen hand would somehow actually deliver him from that enemy.” Jason’s face shone with discovery.

But Yoma wasn’t yet finished with the lesson. “Does Jason understand,” he asked without any letup in intensity, “that King David’s strong and certain beliefs about God’s love and about God’s involvement in his life were weights that kept him anchored while powerful negative feelings were trying hard to blow him away?”

Again, Jason thought. “Yeah, I understand. The very fact that David continued in his walk with God means that his beliefs kept him from being beaten by his feelings.”

Yoma quickly drove home his last point: “Now — does Jason finally understand why he, Jason Faircloth, has nearly been blown away so many times in the last four and half years?”

Jason felt as if someone had uncovered him, exposing a nakedness he had for years been trying to hide. He felt the revelation cutting him to the soul. In shame he lowered his head in the presence of the old man and God.

“Yes,” he finally said. “I understand now why Jason has nearly been blown away so many times. It’s because his feeling have been stronger than his beliefs. His beliefs about God’s love and God’s mercy and God’s providence have been too weak, and too uncertain.”

Yoma kept silent, letting Jason be pierced by the truth of his own words.

Jason half lifted his head and spoke again. “Is this the warning you wanted me to hear?”

“Yes,” Yoma answered tenderly. “This is Maung Maung’s warning. Jason must once and for all decide what he believes about God’s love, decide what he believes about God’s mercy decide what he believes about the misfortunes God allows in his life. Jason must know with certainty what he believes, so that his future will not be destroyed by the many strong winds of negative feelings.”

It was true and Jason knew it. His four and a half years of wandering had left him teeter-tottering in his ideas about God’s personal love and concern. He had learned many things, but his overall picture of God’s love had been left abstract. Only during the last six months here in Norway had his concept of a caring God really grown. And that was due to Yoma and the International Church. They had prevented him from going all the way under. They had been his spiritual lifesaver. They had helped persuade him that God does love, that God does care.

Yes, Yoma was right. He had to settle, once and for all, his beliefs about the loving side of God’s character. He already had his directive: to simply believe the person of God as portrayed in the Scriptures, not adding anything to the picture nor taking anything away. Yoma and the church had begun the process; now there was no excuse for allowing it to stall.
Excerpts from “Wisdom Hunter” by Randall Arthur (Questar Pub) Chapter 27 pages 237-240.