I’m on a journey through the Psalms at the minute. I’m going at a very gentle pace but discovering much along the way. I still read the Psalm I wake at but I’ve been focussing on a Psalm of the day. I started last month with Psalms 1-30, so this month it’s Psalms 31-60.
I’ve been able to relate to the emotions and honesty of the psalms and the fluctuations between despair and hope especially in Psalm 42. It was my reading on Saturday and seemed a very relevant end to a week when I felt discouraged by the F word (fatigue!) yet encouraged by the fruitfulness of walks with Tess.
On Tuesday and Friday I got to pray with two lovely elderly gentlemen on the beach and by the river; on Wednesday I bumped into a lady in the forest I had prayed for before (in the exact same spot!); and on Thursday I had a walk with another lady I had prayed for one day in the forest and she was telling me she had been sharing that with her cell group and been encouraging them to reach out to others too. So encouraging!
Like the psalmist in Psalm 42 it is often tempting to focus on the despair and listen to the doubts about God’s presence. “My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”” Psalm 42:3 NIV
“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 42:4 NIV
The Psalmist makes a choice to pour out the bad and remember the good, not in a way that leaves him stuck in those memories with no way forward to new experiences of God but as a reminder that His God is way bigger than his situation; that His hope is not dependent on His circumstances but on his God.
“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Saviour and my God!” Psalms 42:5-6 NLT
As I walked in the forest this week, I felt God remind me He is my hope when I heard my head singing the old hymn “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness”.
Yet sometimes in spite of these encouraging reminders of who God is and what He is doing, along comes another wave of overwhelming discouragement. The psalmist also writes,“Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar.” Psalms 42:6 NLT
He describes his situation with realism but again makes a choice to keep remembering not what He is going through but to remember Who can bring Him through. He can choose to look inwards or look upwards.
As he does he is hit with the realisation that God is not distant and has not deserted him, He is always there. “But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.” Psalms 42:8 NLT
The psalmist shows it is not wrong to give vent to your feelings, but it’s not good to give in to them and so he concludes not with his own hopelessness but with His hope in God
He allows what he knows in His heart to speak to what is going on in his head.
You too may be feeling overwhelmed by wave after wave of discouragement, wondering “Why have you forgotten me?” (v9) or “Where is this God of yours?” (v10)
Like the psalmist, speak to the doubt and discouragement, don’t allow them to dictate to you!!
“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!” Psalms 42:11 NLT