Hope in discouragement

I have to be pushed beyond my resources before I recognise my need. My soul cries for God but my body interprets the cry as – eat more comfort food, get emotional space, be entertained.

As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. (Psalm 42:1-NIV)

In discouragement I need God above all. He is my lifeline.

I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? (Psalm 42:2-NIV)

In discouragement God seems distant.

I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and 6 my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan… (Psalm 42:5-6-NIV)

In discouragement, there is one hope – my Saviour and God. The road begins when we choose to remember him, even with only the smallest trickle of encouragement as a spring on a barren mountain.

 I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. (Psalm 42:7-NIV)

Life’s trials sweep over us reinforcing the question, “Where is your God?”

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. (Psalm 42:8-NIV)

The Lord pours out his love, will I receive it? Will I acknowledge that he sent it? Will I rejoice with him that he sent me life? I must choose to receive salvation though I don’t feel like it.

 

For more detail – the original study

Spiritual emptiness

Why does the Lord take us through periods of spiritual emptiness? We long for intimacy in worship and the word, but encounter dryness.

This seems to be the experience of the Psalmist in Psalms 42&43 (combined as one).

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?

This seems blasphemy to a culture exalting intimacy with God. How could God distance Himself? Yet the Psalmist writes –

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night,while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’

When this spiritual emptiness is experienced there are consequences, a rawness to life. One is on edge and brought to the end of natural defences. One is tempted to fill up through satisfaction of physical senses that only scream louder.

In years gone by, the Psalmist may have believed in a ‘technique that worked.’ After gaining intimacy with God through such techniques and then losing it for no apparent reason one gains perspective that God is after more than experiences of wellbeing.

43:3 Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.

The break through comes not from our efforts but from the Lord. The Psalmist calls on the one who seems to have forgotten him, recognising that the Lord’s purpose is as much about character as the experience of His presence.

 

For greater detail see the study for the whole passage.