Psalm 42

Thirst Observed in discouragement

1 As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.

Living in discouragement, the one thing I need above all is God. He is my lifeline.

Sometimes I have to be pushed beyond all my resources before I am willing to recognise this need. My body cries out for the living God but my mind interprets the cry as – eat more comfort food, get emotional space from those around me, be entertained.  Our society in elevating happiness brings us to a place of discouragement because actually it is not often that we are happy.

2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?

It is not even as if God is so easily encountered. Often in our discouragement the Lord seems even further away than normal.

3 Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours?”

Our discouragement is not just a reflection of what is happening within. In our outer world we are under constant attack with our ‘friends’ asking us again and again, “Where is this God of your?” In a world that is turning its back on God we have few answers that we can easily point to that would be comprehended by the secular world so we are forced to take the criticism in silence.

4 My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!

We look back to days that were different. We look on times when there was a great throng of people worshiping God and maybe we even held a place of honour among them. Such a throng is a great source of encouragement, there is a buzz and our spirits are lifted.

5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?

We are not even sure why we are discouraged.  The only thing we do know is that we are.

Hope in God alone

I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and 6 my God!

From this state of discouragement, there is only one hope and he is my Saviour and my God.

Discouraging times are testing times. They ask us where our hope is. They expose situations where our hope is anywhere other than the Lord. Not that we should berate ourselves when we discover that we had been living with other hopes, but rather when we find ourselves discouraged, this is the opportunity to choose to put our hope in God and not other things.

Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar.

In discouragement we find ourselves in a lonely place, even if surrounded by people who love us, it seems few understand or few are consciously with us in this place.

In discouragement we find ourselves far from the deep waters of spiritual nurture.  The Jordan is a long way off, we just have the trickle of water that is its source. Yet this is what we have. Are we willing to receive from the Lord all the nurture he can give us through this spring?

Confront reality?

7 I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.

Instead of deep waters of spiritual nurture and encouragement we are overwhelmed by waves and surging tides; the trials of life that sweep over us reinforcing the question, “Where is your God?”

8 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.

A challenge in such times is to reflect on life and see where the Lord’s unfailing love has actually come to us, where he has shown himself. Then to move on from there and in the loneliness and in the darkness to praise God who gives us life.

9 “O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?” 10 Their taunts break my bones. They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”

Discouragement needs honesty. If there is a sense that the Lord has forgotten us, we need to tell him that we feel he has forgotten us. If we are wandering around oppressed by enemies, with no sign of help, then we need to tell God that this is where we are.

A road with God

11 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!

The answers of what has caused the discouragement are not there. There is nothing here that is going to pull us out of discouragement. What we do however is choose to praise God as saviour and God. He is our only real hope and it is to him, not circumstances or other people that we must turn.

1 Declare me innocent, O God! Defend me against these ungodly people. Rescue me from these unjust liars.

We look for God to turn our circumstances around. It is he who can intervene and justify us before others. It is God who can rescue us from the lies that surround us.

2 For you are God, my only safe haven. Why have you tossed me aside? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?

However we feel about the place God has put us, he is our only genuine safe haven. Even when we feel tossed aside by him so  that we are unable to answer those who taunt us, he is the only one we can go to for help.

3 Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live.

God is the only one who can bring us to the place of real refreshment. In depression we desperately need God’s light and truth to come to us in new ways. We need God’s word to come to us, living and leading to bring us into his presence. No other source of encouragement will really do it.

4 There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!

When God has sent his word, when he has brought us to the place of life, then we will encounter a joy worth holding out for. Then we will praise God with all our hearts.

5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!

The choice of putting our hope in God is re-stated. I will put my hope in God, I will praise him again. It is this certainty that God will come through that holds us through discouragement.

This is faith. This is when faith as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see is being expressed and developed in its deepest form.