What does it mean to be filled with longing? We all have longings throughout our lives, though those longings will certainly vary–from person to person and from season to season. The presence of longing in our lives would suggest that something is missing. So why do we long so much? What is missing?
David begins Psalm 13 with four questions, found in the first two verses. Each question begins with these two words: How long? David feels full of sorrow. He feels oppressed by his enemies. David fears that God may have forgotten him, that God’s presence is not looking down upon him. We discover in these two verses the root of our longing. We all have longings because there is something missing in each of us. Sorrow, suffering, and pain bring out those longings. We think we long for relief and comfort, but ultimately what is missing is the presence of God in our lives.
David makes an interesting request in verse three: Consider and answer me. Other translations say, “Look upon me” or “Take a good look at me.” To know that God sees us, that he considers us, is something of enormous significance. David could have petitioned God for all sorts of changed circumstances and material provisions. Instead, he simply requests, “Show me that You are near. Respond to my prayer. Help me to see what You are doing.” In short, David is asking God to help him trust.
And that’s exactly where this psalm ends. David remembers God’s love. David remembers how God has “dealt bountifully” with him. Though David faces sufferings and hardships, God has brought him this far. David will trust. What he longs for–what is missing–is not so much God’s loving presence. It’s David’s trust in that loving presence. David begins this prayer in lamentation, but he finishes it with rejoicing.
We cannot let our longings consume us. Nor can we allow them to become misguided. Longings are a good thing, provided we are longing after the best thing. Bring your longings to God. Wrestle with them in prayer. Then allow Him to bring you to a point of trust. Through that faith, we will experience His presence. And that is our ultimate longing, whether we are aware of it or not.