Making Life Work
Read: Psalm 13
Focus: Psalm 13:3
“Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.”
Do you ever wonder why there are some whose eyes just always seem to sparkle? Is it because they have such a naturally sunny disposition? Is it because things are continually going their way? Is it because they are just so much better at life that they outshine the average person? What is it about these people?
Well, it could be that any or all of the above factors contribute to their winsome approach to life. But I would venture to guess that these folks have also developed the ability to practice hopefulness in the midst of all the negative stuff that might send a less hopeful person into the tank.
Aaron Beck, a leading marriage researcher, found the number one belief that kills marriages is that a spouse will never change. Once that belief set in, there was a loss of motivation, surrendering of perseverance, and giving up. Here’s the thing: Underneath the failure to endure and the quitting, there was the loss of hope.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 13:12 that “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” But when hope is practiced, whether in marriage specifically or life in general, there is tremendous motivation not only for growth and change, but for that winsome radiance to dominate our personality in a way that both elevates our moods and is consistently visible to those we are around.
That is why we’ve got to choose daily to put our hope in the promises of God. That’s what David did. He practiced hope. In the first two verses of this six-verse psalm, David was focusing on the overwhelmingly bad things in his life that were dragging him down. But in the last two verses, his focused has shifted to the overwhelming mercy and grace of God—and it changed everything.
Some people’s eyes just seem to light up—they sparkle. Why is that? King David says it’s because they practice hope. In the midst of all the negative stuff of life, they pray bigly, reflect gratefully and sing expectantly. Seriously, that’s how you practice hope: pray, reflect and sing. David did it—and he’s a pretty credible authority. He wrote the songbook of the human race—the 150-song book of Psalms. It’s still the number one selling hymnal for humans for a reason—it works. It has lit up the eyes of the hurting with hope, joy and light by the millions. If you’re low on joy, do what the psalmist did—practice hope—and let God “restore the sparkle to your eyes,” too!
What did David do to pull off that turn around? Well, to begin with, he went to God—he prayed. He poured out his complaint (vv. 1-2) and then made a bold request (v. 3). Next, he went back into the memory banks of his past experience with God and recalled that God had never failed him—not even once (v. 5). Therefore, since God had been faithful in David’s past, it only made sense to trust him in the present. And finally, David praised (v. 6). David began to sing of the mercies and goodness of God. Praise is simply declaring that God’s track record of faithfulness in the past is the pre-evidence of his immutable character tomorrow.
David practiced hope—and before knew it, the sparkle had returned to his eyes.
“Hope fills the afflicted soul with such inward joy and consolation, that it can laugh while tears are in the eye, sigh and sing all in a breath.” (William Gurnall)
Making Life Work: Hebrews 6:19 says of the practice of hope, “We have this hope as an anchor of the soul, firm and secure.” And when we practice it—praying, reflecting, singing—we too, can expect the sparkle to return to our eyes. As Romans 5:5 says, this “hope does not disappoint us.”