We are all facing it daily—dire statements from governmental leaders, expressions of fear from neighbors and family members, and endless headlines pointing us to even greater levels of future woe in our economy. Fact is, it would seem that the only category not in short supply is the one titled “negative news.” There is plenty of that to go around.
Indeed, these are tough times, days in which we need to pause and attempt to look through the forest in order to see the trees. A student of God’s word, the Bible, will have read in numerous sections of Scripture that life is not always a lush, peaceful landscape with fair skies and lovely lakes. Life can be downright hard, and that reality is being perceived with greater clarity today.
It was in the midst of such difficult times that the biblical psalmist would take such a pause and reflect on all that was going on around him. That is one of the things that I have loved about the Bible—it doesn’t sugar-coat life. Whether the author was David, Asaph, or even Moses, the Book of Psalms gives us real life stories that contain all of these emotions.
These psalms were actually songs sung by the people of God in both times of plenty and also in times of great want. They were passed down from one generation to the next, giving hope and peace to those enduring difficult times.
One such chapter in this beloved book is Psalm 42, an often-quoted masterpiece that mirrors what many are feeling even today. It begins with a metaphor that was the basis for a very popular worship chorus several years ago. “As the deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1 ESV). The psalmist goes on to express the depths of his dryness, the level of great sorrow and anguish that he was enduring.
Like with us, he too had remembrances of better, happier times, but his present situation seemed dim and hopeless. Yet, all of those realities led him to that place where his eyes began to see that forest hidden by those trees.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” he asked of himself. Now, he was seeing more clearly. “Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God”. (Psalm 42:5-6a ESV).
It is so helpful to have such chapters, remembering that these words were God-breathed, and given to us today as the living word of God.
What was true for the psalmist is true for us. At the end of the day, no matter how bitter our tears may be in the moment, we can put our hope in the one who never fails.