Dear brothers and sisters,
Let’s take a look at a powerful and hope-filled Chapter in the Psalms. At first glance, it doesn’t look so full of hope. In fact, it looks pretty bleak. But because the psalmist ultimately trusts in God, his entire outlook begins to change. He starts to look upward, and not so much inward. That’s the sweet spot of Christianity. When feeling depressed, anxious, and/or distant from God, this passage is a great place to turn. Even as Christians, we often get anxious, depressed, and fearful. We can’t imagine that we will even make it through the day with our sanity preserved………let alone the rest of our lives. Let’s see what we can learn from Psalm 42, so that we are better prepared for the turmoil and suffering that will come to all of us.
When we focus on all of the pressures of life, and all of the bad things that could happen, we forget God and the enemy rejoices. Thoughts like these flood our feeble minds………..What if they reject me because I’m a Christian? What if I get fired from my job? What if my child becomes a prodigal? What if my child is already a prodigal and doesn’t return to God? What if I get cancer? What if my wife gets cancer? What if my house burns down? What if…? What if….? What if….? AArrgghhh. It’s enough to make anyone a whirlwind of anxiety inside. Sometimes even the godliest of people. And truth be told, if he hadn’t turned to God, the psalmist would have let inner turmoil completely take over his life.
There were probably seasons (or at least moments) when anxiety, as opposed to God’s promises, dominated the psalmist’s entire outlook. But ultimately his theology of God’s perfect character saved the day. He was brought to that desperate place where the troubled soul seeks God with everything he has, and doesn’t hold back. The lesson: In desperate situations, be extremely careful not to let your feelings override correct theology of who God is. Really, this applies in any situation, not just desperate ones. But as it goes, when our sufferings increase, we are more tempted to let feelings rule the day. But let’s look where the psalmist turns. When he is at the end of his rope, he realizes that he needs a different focus…….off of Himself, and onto the King.
You know what the biggest “what if” we should be concerned about? It’s not all the “what ifs” I listed above. Not even close. This is the one we should be most concerned about………What if I lose hope by forgetting God? That would be more of a tragedy than anything else in life! The psalmist is harassed by God’s enemies, feeling downcast, and unable to worship at the sanctuary. He doesn’t necessarily feel God’s presence. But even so, he recognizes that God is His refuge and the only One worthy to turn to. Above all things, he does not want to forget His God. That would be the ultimate tragedy. But sadly, Christians can fall into that trap when life takes us by surprise.
Feelings change. Emotions go high, low, and everywhere in between. And in a fallen world, our circumstances are never going to be exactly as we want them. But none of this describes what God is like. He is our steadfast and unchangeable Rock. God is worthy to be praised not only during times of comfort and blessing, but also during trial and great distress. He will often put us in situations that force us to trust Him. He does this to train our faith. He removes the comforts we can see so that we focus more on the One we cannot yet see. Our emotions will often waiver back and forth, but God and the promises of His Word do not change. Therefore, our praise should not waiver either. It should always be focused on our Lord Jesus Christ.
We worship the God of hope, the One who has given us the certain expectation of a resurrected and glorified life with Jesus Christ! Now experienced in part, but one day in full. Let us turn our attention away from mounting circumstances, and onto our great God and Savior. Like the Psalmist, let us praise Him at all times. This is so important for our sanctification, that we learn to praise Him and give thanks in all things. This is true both individually, and in our spiritual growth as the body of Christ.
Cling to this truth, dear Christian. It will change you for the better. As bad as things may get sometimes, we are never hopeless as long as God is caring for us. And if you are a Christian, He will do that forever.
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say to me,
“Where is your God?”
4 When I remember these things,
I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude;
I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise,
With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.
6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me;
Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan,
And from the heights of Hermon,
From the Hill Mizar.
7 Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.
8 The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life.
9 I will say to God my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a breaking of my bones,
My enemies reproach me,
While they say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
11 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.