Psalm 42 – When The Going Gets Tough

Something I love about the Psalms is when they get to do real talk. 

The first verse of this Psalm has inspired a song many Christians sing as a devotional to the Lord. How they long to worship Him and how He alone is the heart’s one desire. They are beautiful sentiments. 

Yet the wider context of this Psalm isn’t about a love song to the Lord of how good He is and how great it is to be with Him. No, this is a Psalm more about dealing with the times when it seems as though you’ve been forgotten. It’s dealing with the tragedies and hardships in life that get you seriously questioning your faith. This Psalm starts with a longing and panting for God because it feels as though He is the water, but you be in a desert without a drop in sight. 

What do you do in those situations? You can certainly think back on the good times as this Psalmist does. You can be warned and reassured by these things and recollecting them can help. Yet beyond that there has to be a degree of encouraging yourself. Not just remembering what has happened but bringing into the present the reality of who He is. 

That is not easy in the middle of the storm, in the thick of it all, when the pain strikes you deepest. When your nearest and dearest are suffering and there is nothing you can do. When your friends are far from you right when you need them the most. When disappointments are crushing you and the expectations appear greater than ever before. Right there in the heat, it is not easy to remember God who saves and God who cares. In the middle of it all where things appear to be getting worse, not better, this is where being genuine with the Lord as this Psalmist is, wrangling within himself, is so pivotal to our inner well-being. 

Following Jesus does not bring an immediate end to those questions and struggles. It does bring an invitation to engage in honesty and openness with Him and learn to know Him in it and through it. No easy answers, no quick fixes, but proper dialogue and proper deepening of relationships is on offer. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

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