There are a lot of concerns/worries crowding our hearts at this uncertain time. A lot of these things do lead to our soul feeling downcast and disturbed within us. In this blog, I want us to take time to meditate on Psalm 42. For many of us it will be a psalm that hits home at this time. While, in the psalm, the psalmist acknowledges and feels the turmoil of his situation; he chooses to challenge how he responds to it. It is a Psalm of hope in the midst of a troubled time. May it be a blessing to us all.
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. (Psalm 42v1-4)
The psalmist focuses on the deep longing of his soul, a soul that is in anguish and in turmoil. There is little support for the psalmist as he battles forward through his situation. At the time when he really needs God to show up, God seems to have left him. Those around him, question his situation and the whereabouts of his God. The psalmist does not lose sight of his souls deep longing for the Lord, where he can go and meet and be with the Lord. It is a deep desperation and hope.
The Psalmist reflects on the times that were better. In the NLT version it reads, ‘My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be.’. These were times of great celebration. These were days full of joy and praise. Days full of being amongst fellow believers and being found in the house of the Lord. As the Psalmist reflects on these days, he then goes on to question his soul.
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God. (v5)
This verse is important in how the psalmist chooses how he wants to respond to his situation. In the previous verses, he has mentioned the grief of his heart and his desperation for the Lord. In this verse he chooses to focus and question his soul on why it is feeling this way. The psalmist wants to find the problem and find a way in which he can change that.
‘Put your hope in God’, the psalmist is firm that his hope needs to be established in God. Not only will he put his hope there; ultimately it will end in praise because he knows the faithfulness of God and knows God as his Saviour. The next verse he continues with how his soul feels but his perspective is lifted above the situation.
My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan, the heights of Hermon- from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all the waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me- a prayer to the God of my life. (v6-8)
The psalmist knows the condition of his soul but continues to remember who the Lord is through it all. There is this beautiful intimacy that psalmist chooses to know in his life. That by day the Lord fills him with his unfailing love; in knowing this unfailing love it leads to songs of praise from the psalmist’s mouth. There is this communication and relationship through prayer. The psalmist knows the brokenness of his situation but cannot be blinded to the relationship with the Lord. In the next verse we see the psalmist highlighting his desperation and need as he continues to deal with his inner conflict.
I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” (v9-10)
May we not bypass the beginning of the verse in which the psalmist states ‘I say to God my Rock’, he knows who God is in his life but he has questions which he chooses to lay before the Lord. The psalmist reflects on the impact that this turmoil is having even on his bones, he feels in utter agony. The way that his enemies taunt him is crippling and triggering as the psalmist tries to work out where his God is in all of this. He notes how he feels forgotten which always leads to feeling rejected, which will only be heightened by the taunts of his enemies. However, the psalmist does not end there. He chooses again to question himself and reconfirm his hope.
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God. (v11)
It seems to be a reminder to the psalmist, to challenge how his soul is responding to this situation. Throughout this psalm, we have seen how his turmoil leads him to go through many emotions and questions. Ultimately, the psalmist chooses to challenge his response and look beyond the situation he is in. Even though it has led to a lot of pain, the psalmist chooses to place his hope in the faithfulness of the Lord. What is overwhelming at this time will soon lead to praise.
The reason I picked Psalm 42 is due to this turmoil that has unfolded from this season of great uncertainty. I know that I was greatly challenged when I read through this psalm, especially in the questioning why I feel the way I do. Where there is completely room for our emotions in our relationship with the Lord, there has to be times in our lives where we do question where we are putting our hope. At a time like this when the enemy can use so much in his favour, for example even the news is full of anger, hate and frustration. May we not allow the enemy to deter us from the truth and faithfulness of our God. It can be crippling when we are not in community anymore. It is easy to feel distant from our church when we are seeing them week by week through screens. You miss that personal connection and can feel alone in all your troubles. May we all learn to have the courage and the determination of the psalmist. Who even in his utter desperation and despair, chose to focus on what was good. He chose to remember the Lord and his faithfulness, even when it was painful to remember the good he kept his eyes on it. For the psalmist knew there would come a time in which he would again praise his God and his Saviour, may we be greatly encouraged.
Even when we feel that God is so distant, may we remember that each day the Lord is pouring his unfailing love on us. That we have courage and determination to not be overwhelmed by what is attempting to overwhelm us. The time will be painful, but God is not afraid of our cries to him, he truly does equip us with everything we need. That may look like praying the armour of God (Ephesians 6v13-17) over your life day by day, I know that is something I have been doing. Truly it has been making such a powerful impact on my life. May you never believe you are alone or forsaken, the enemy will use those lies to isolate you. You need to fight to that, you need to remember who God is through it all. Choose wisely where you are putting your hope. If you come to realise you have been putting your hope in a crumbling foundation; may you have the courage to surrender it to the Lord. Place your hope in God, for he is your God and your Saviour. We do not know what the coming days will hold but we do know the faithfulness of God. His unfailing love is with us all, may we cherish that deeply. May we continue to walk forward in all that we are facing.
Prayer: Father, many of our souls are feeling very heavy at the moment. When we awake we feel downcast and discouraged. We do not know what the day will hold or even how we can have the courage to face it. Some of us, our hope has been trampled on too many times by placing in it with the wrong people or places. When we feel worried to put our hope in you due to those who have disappointed us in the past. May you surround us with your love and hope through this time, may you guide us to your arms where we will know safety and care. For others, we do know your faithfulness but like psalmist, we are in great pain because of the situations that surround us. Whether that be financial, loved ones, health or even for the future. These situations can be devastating and for many of us we feel alone in dealing with them. Some of us feel you are distant from us and others have distanced ourselves because of the shame of our situation. May we see you as our Saviour and our God over every situation in our lives. It can be hard to trust you especially when you do not work to our time frame. May we all trust in your perfect timing and in the waiting may our minds be filled with your faithfulness of the past. Knowing that even this season of our lives will ultimately end in praise. You are a loving and faithful Father, we thank you always for your grace. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Philippians 4v8 ‘And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.’
Have a blessed week, love Victoria. xx