Read Psalm 13.
In a press briefing, former U. S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was asked about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. His response became somewhat iconic:
Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.
Although it’s a little bit of a tongue twister to use Rumsfeld’s categories, his logic applies to areas well beyond national defense. We all proceed in life with limited knowledge, doing our best to work with what we’ve got. And Rumsfeld is right—it’s the unknown unknowns that tend to throw us for a loop.
Psalm 13 is short, comprising only six verses. David spends the first four complaining about an unnamed enemy who would like to see him dead and God’s apparent inaction on his behalf. But then a shift occurs in verse 5. David stops looking around at his situation and looks to the Lord, remembering the known known that is always true: God’s unfailing love (v. 5).
There are still unknowns. David doesn’t know what will happen next. He doesn’t know if his pursuer will catch up with him. He doesn’t know if the end of his life is close at hand. But He does know that God has been good to him (v. 6). And so he trusts this known known about God’s character above everything else.
That’s what faith is—trusting God, not in spite what we can’t see, but because of what we can see: His character, what He has done in the past, and what He has promised to do in the future. Faith is not a leap in the dark; it is confidence in God, based on His Word. It is facing the unknowns because of the known.
David doesn’t know if or how God will rescue him from his current predicament. But it doesn’t really matter in the end. He has the love of God, and no bloodthirsty nemesis can change that. So David, even in the midst of a terrible situation, can rightly say, “I will sing the LORD’s praises” (v. 6). He is not alone in this privilege. As His children, no matter what surrounds us, God’s unfailing love does as well.