Psalm 10: A Psalm for When it Seems Like God Doesn’t Care

I was in high school, and had just returned home from track practice, tired and hungry. I turned on the television in the kitchen to discover that two teenagers from Columbine High School in Colorado had entered the school with multiple semi-automatic weapons and opened fire at random, killing 26 people, 20 of whom were their fellow students. I could see the shock and the fear all over the community. It seemed unbelievable that two high school students were not only capable, but willing to commit such a heinous crime.

When I returned to school the next day, I remember seeing a similar shock and fear in my own school. If it can happen there, it can happen here. For students, teachers, and parents, the thought that they were safe within the walls of a school was blown away. Among some students, there was a deeper question: where was God in all of this? If he is such a good God, why would he let this happen?

Tragedies like Columbine are all too common these days. And yet, the question still remains. Given the events over the past couple of years with school safety, students are no doubt wrestling why God would allow such evil and suffering. As a youth minister, you have probably had to contend with this troubling concept yourself.

King David had the same sentiments as many of our students when he penned Psalm 10:1: “Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” In this Psalm, David holds nothing back. He writes about how the wicked man “murders the innocent.” And yet, David feels as though “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees” (vv.8-11).

David shows our students that it is okay for them to pour out their raw emotions and frustrations to God in prayer. God is big and powerful, he can handle it. According to Matthew 6:8, he already knows their hearts and desires better than they do. While some of their peers may not have the capacity to handle such raw expressions of emotion, God always can.

After 11 verses of unloading his frustrations, David changes his tone. This pivotal point is crucial for our students to understand. While it can be cathartic to bring our every emotion to God, our souls will be in a dangerous place if we don’t move them towards the place of faith that David does verses 12-18.

David’s emotional journey of Psalm 10 gives us three ideas to share with our students about how to cry out to God in times of crisis and process before the Lord.

Call Out in Faith

In a simple plea for help, David cries, “Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless” (vs. 12).

We may not know how, but like David, we entrust ourselves to God in our brokenness, knowing that because he knows all things and holds all things, we can be confident that he will provide.

When my daughter was little and my wife would go to the store, my daughter would cry and scream as if her mother was never coming back home. I knew where her mother was, but I couldn’t explain that to her, so my daughter continued to call out in hope that her mother would come back. That’s what the Psalmist does here.

David has hope that God can and will do great things, so he boldly approaches him in prayer. How often is prayer something that we seek during times of crisis or intense emotional pain? How often do we start with prayer to Godrather than accusation against God?

While we want our teens to have honest conversations with God, we should encourage them not to end there. They need to have their unfiltered thoughts directed in faith, trusting that that God will act on the basis of his loving and powerful character.

This attitude of faith is the difference between the first 11 verses and the last six. David’s faith demonstrates that despite the dire outlook of the situation, he trusts that God can and will work all things out for David’s good. We may not know how, but like David, we entrust ourselves to God in our brokenness, knowing that because he knows all things and holds all things, we can be confident that he will provide.

Remember What God Has Done in the Past

Irish statesman Edmund Burke once said, “those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” In other words, the more you understand what God has done in the past, the deeper your trust that he will act in the future. In verse 14 David says, “but you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”

What would cause such a stark contrast from David’s apparent accusation in verse 1? In this moment, David is most likely remembering events like the Exodus where God proved his faithfulness, such as when Moses lead Egypt out of slavery and God parted the Red Sea to make a way for them.

This reflection gives David hope that God can act even in the worst of situations. The same is true for us as well. The more we reflect on how God has acted in Scripture and in the lives of those around us, the easier it will be to move from frustration to belief that he can work all things together for our good. The more we remind our students of God’s faithfulness in the past, the easier our students will navigate their uncertain present.

Look to What God is Doing in the Present

Even in the midst of a difficult situation, God is still providing good and perfect gifts for his children. When we fixate on our difficult circumstances, we miss out on how God continues to bless us in times of trial. In verse 16, David says, “the Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land.” David understands what God has done and what he is capable of doing now. Even with all of the evil he witnessed in the first 11 verses, David proclaims that God is still on the throne.

This Generation (Gen Z) has seen its share of difficulty. Some can remember 9/11 and its aftermath. Many remember the great recession of 2008.  Of course, there is the fresh memory of past two years of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

Our youth are anxious, and that anxiety can leave them feeling as though God has abandoned them. It will be a challenge for us as youth workers to point them back to the gospel, despite all the evil and suffering they see around them. But the more we can teach them to reflect on God’s character, his love, and his deeds as recorded in Scripture, the stronger their faith will be the one who died for them, the very one who was abandoned on the cross to assure them that they never will be.

Steve Eatmon has over 12 years of experience in youth ministry and a Masters of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary.  Currently, he serves as the pastor to high school and middle school students at the Chinese Bible Church of Maryland. He is married to Heather and they have two children, Ryan and Rachael.  

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