Psalm 42 and Praise in the Midst of Sorrow

Downcast1It is difficult to praise God when it seems like everything is going wrong, when we are plagued with sorrow. Yet this is the theme of Psalm 42:

Just like a deer that craves streams of water,
    my whole being craves you, God.
My whole being thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When will I come and see God’s face?
My tears have been my food both day and night,
    as people constantly questioned me,
    “Where’s your God now?”

But I remember these things as I bare my soul:
    how I made my way to the mighty one’s abode,
    to God’s own house,
        with joyous shouts and thanksgiving songs—
        a huge crowd celebrating the festival!
Why, I ask myself, are you so depressed?
    Why are you so upset inside?
Hope in God!
    Because I will again give him thanks,
        my saving presence and my God.

My whole being is depressed.
    That’s why I remember you
    from the land of Jordan and Hermon,
        from Mount Mizar.
Deep called to deep at the noise of your waterfalls;
    all your massive waves surged over me.
By day the Lord commands his faithful love;
    by night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to God, my solid rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
        Why do I have to walk around,
        sad, oppressed by enemies?”
10 With my bones crushed, my foes make fun of me,
    constantly questioning me: “Where’s your God now?”

11 Why, I ask myself, are you so depressed?
    Why are you so upset inside?
        Hope in God!
        Because I will again give him thanks,
        my saving presence and my God.

The only way to praise God when things are horribly wrong is to remember what God has done in the past. Sometimes these memories are what God has done in our own lives personally, and sometimes they are what God has done in history for his people, Israel and the Church.

If you are in a place where tears have been my food, or you know someone who is in that place, remember and retell the stories of how God has worked. Then you may find hope where there seems to be none.

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