Today I feel the weight of unanswered prayer. I feel the burden of a depraved culture. I feel the ache of my own heart that is still in need of spiritual growth and maturity. I feel the sorrow of distance from God that my own selfishness brings. And today, once again, I’m on the journey from what I “feel” to what is.
The resurrection power that I spoke of yesterday, that we celebrated this past weekend, is still very much available, but in the face of dark days, the light of early resurrection morning can begin to fade. So I need to take a journey.
I start the journey as I do every day, on the only path toward hope: The pathway of truth. I open God’s message that counters every false notion and every doubt-filled fear. Today’s journey takes me through two Psalms that provide a foundation for Hope.
Psalm 42 and 43 both give us the picture of a sorrowful believer, yearning for God’s presence, but one that is experiencing distance from him because of his current circumstances. Sin is not the problem this time, that isn’t the reason this “Son of Korah” feels distant from God. But the distance is both a physical state and an emotional reality. This worshiper isn’t able to be in the same position of leading corporate worship that he has experienced in the past. He is far from the sanctuary (literally), and all that he once enjoyed while worshiping God:
[box]As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. (Psalm 42:1–4)[/box]
Don’t miss this important detail: this Psalm was written by a worship leader. This sorrowful poem was written by one of the “Sons of Korah” the designation for one whose family was assigned by David “in service of song” for the “house of the Lord.” The temple wasn’t built yet, but the tabernacle housed the ark of God (representing God’s presence) in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 6:31–37).
But Jerusalem is miles away. Enemies are breathing down their necks. And this son of Korah feels forsaken.
Even though he feels like God has forgotten him, he “feels” like God is far away and distant, uncaring and unconcerned—this sorrowful believer preaches truth to himself. He realizes that remembering the works of God that he has seen in the past, will provide him with hope for the future.
Three verses in these companion chapters all say the exact same thing (Psalm 42:5, 11; and 43:5). They issue the challenge: Preach to the heart, the truth that our hope is found in God alone:
[box]“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”[/box]
This sorrowful believer gives instruction to himself to consider God’s position and power as he is in turmoil. Does that change our emotional state? Not always, but it changes our focus.
When I walk through the corridors of my personal history with God, it encourages me. I’m reminded of His demonstrations of faithfulness that I’ve experienced—repeatedly throughout my life. When I move beyond that and look at His power displayed through creation, through other believers’ lives, through fulfilled prophecy and answered prayer—the distance between despair and hope begins to close. My focus and perspective changes.
Rather than being overwhelmed by all that I see that God isn’t doing in my life, I’m encouraged by remembering all He has already done—and that gives me hope.
A fresh perspective doesn’t change my circumstances.
The Singer of Psalm 42 and 43 isn’t suddenly transported from the “land of Jordan” far from God’s sanctuary (and far from God’s presence) to the city of Jerusalem where he can once again lead the congregation in praise. But his fresh perspective provides the strength this weary traveler needs. He is able to honestly cry out to God, to express his sorrow (without fear of reprimand) and to state his request without dishonoring the God he desires to reach.
This believer is surrounded by real enemies that produce real fears (just as you and I are), but he knows that hope is not lost.
Hope is not lost when we remember, and focus on, the faithfulness of our Redeemer.
If you are one who is struggling in deep sorrow today, or maybe enduring a long season of sadness, let’s pray for one another. You don’t have to tell us what you’re dealing with, if you don’t like to leave comments, just post the request: “Will you pray for me?” and we will know that you need the Body of Christ to intercede for you.
We will be praying for your soul to experience renewed hope as you remember and recount God’s steadfast love for you, and the faithfulness you’ve experienced with Him in the past!
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net