"I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." Psalm 37:25
David, the shepherd who became the King of Israel, once wrote, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread" (Psalm 37:25). Was David ever tempted to give up on the Lord? For seven long years he lived in exile, fearing that Saul or one of his zealous soldiers would take his life. He lived as a fugitive, often in desolation, uncertain that he would live to see the light of another day. Once he feigned mental illness, escaping his captor as a madman. On another occasion, the enemy raided David’s home, taking the wives and children of those who fought with him.
David had every right to grow discouraged, yet instead of turning away from the Lord, blaming Him for his problems, David turned to the Lord as a refuge and help to whom he could run in times of trouble.
John was the son of a missionary who taught at a Christian university for many years, yet when four children came in about as many years and John struggled to keep out of debt, he was ready to give up on God. He came to me and said, "I'm ready to walk out on God. This whole business doesn't work for me. I pray and nothing happens. I'm ready to quit."
"John," I countered. "Hey, the game's not over. You've decided to quit too soon." The good news is that he didn't give up or quit, and in time he discovered what David did, that God is seldom early but He is never late.
The fact of the matter is that God operates on a different timetable than you do. In our impatience and a lack of the whole picture, we sometimes think that God has ignored us or is too weak to give us what we ask for – when God is fully aware, fully understanding, and works out the whole situation according to His timetable, not ours. "I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or His seed begging bread," said David.
Four hundred years is a long time to wait for God to do something, but that was the time period that elapsed from the long march into Canaan when the Amalekites harassed and killed the weak and stragglers in the desert until God said, "Go get them!" to Saul. Why so long for God to right a wrong? Possibly because the hatred and anger had to dissipate, and then God said, "The time has come to deal with this wrong."
If you really believe that God has His payday, it relieves you of the responsibility of exacting vengeance on your enemies, allowing God to deal with wrongdoing. "I have not seen the righteous forsaken," says David.
The perspective of the years can only be gained by not quitting, by plodding on, by realizing that whether or not you live to see it, you can be sure God takes note of the wrong people do and ultimately will deal with it.
John, the one who was tempted to quit, did not give up. He now serves as a deacon in his church and smiles when I remind him of our conversation. If you are tempted to give up on God, better take the long view of God's justice and hold on. When he was distressed, David said, "I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God. O LORD, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God" (Psalm 38:15,21).
Eventually you will be able to say, "Once I was young; now I'm old, but I've never seen God's people forsaken or their children having to beg bread." It's still true.
Resource reading: Psalm 37:1-40