Got external trouble?
Are you being done wrong? Are people wearing you out? The psalmist sympathizes with you in your plight. He is one with many enemies, and he is greatly wounded by their physical oppression and verbal taunts. Great is their harassment as they harm him and then mockingly ask, “Where is your God?” And due to circumstances, the psalmist and his companions were separated from their beloved house of worship. How he longed for things to be as they once were.
Got internal turmoil?
Are you not handling things so well? Do you find yourself falling to pieces? Here too, the psalmist identifies with your condition. He is deeply troubled and has been so for some time. A river of tears he has cried day and night. Truth be known, his insides are worn out, and his soul is cast down.
Got tough questions?
Listen to the troubled brother as he pants to God in Psalm 42, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? 3My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 4These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. 5Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation 6and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. 8By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. 9I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” 10As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 11Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
Godly sufferers pour out their souls. Seriously and respectfully, they offer forth their complaints and concerns to God. Gut-wrenching questions are not sinful. In the Bible, the hardest of queries are put forth from psalmists, patriarchs, prophets, and the holy Son of God. David stated and asked:
- Why have you forgotten me?
- Why do I continue to mourn because of the enemy?
- Why do you allow “the enemies” to taunt any longer?
Jesus made his hard statements and asked his hard questions:
- Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.
- I thirst!
- My God, why have you forsaken me?
A whole list of brutal questions could be taken from the book of Job.
Therefore friends, ask away. Go ahead, put your thoughts in verbal form and respectfully wrestle with God. He knows your inner thoughts. Before a word is on your tongue, he knows what you are thinking. You are not hiding anything, so you might as well honorably dialogue with the one who knows you intimately. Ask him:
- Why are you allowing them to prosper?
- Why do you seem so distant and aloof?
- How much longer until you help me?
- Are you really all-seeing, all-knowing, all-controlling, and all-loving?
- If you are so, then why this?
- Do you really love me?
- What good has it done for me to follow you?
- Is life worth living any more?
Get in the Word … Get Grace … Get Faith … Find Hope
In the midst of the psalmist’s earthly hell, he rehearses his relationship with God. In doing so, he is reminded of who God is and how God loves him every day and every night. In doing so, he displaces devilish lies with divine truth, and hope returns. His internal anxiety is spiritually medicated by the Great Physician. And because he has fresh experiential hope, he is enabled to praise God, and this is regardless of how quickly God chooses to alleviate his pain.
Christians friends, remember what the Bible teaches. Believe his promises:
- You deserve God’s wrath, curse, and hell
- You are receiving none of God’s wrath and curse because of Jesus Christ
- You are receiving all of the blessings earned for you by Jesus Christ
- You have been and are eternally loved, and nothing can separate you from this love
- You are suffering under God’s omnipresent and omniscient watch
- You are suffering only what God allows with his omnipotent hand
- You are not odd, for God has ordained similar pain for all his beloved children
- You are being used in God’s plan for his kingdom purposes – nothing is vain for you
- You are not being punished
- You are being discipled, shaped, improved, and made more spiritually desperate
- You do not have to “suffer right” in order for your Heavenly Father to adore you
- You cannot “suffer right,” for you spirit may be willing but your flesh is so weak
- You have a Father who encourages you to cast all your cares on him
- You have a Father who says he cares for you and will come near when you call
- You are not alone — you have Christ who identifies, cries, and prays for you
- You need not walk alone — a pastor and church family can encourage you
- You will not suffer forever, and it might not even be much longer
- You have an eternity of bliss waiting over the horizon
- You can have revived faith, renewed hope, and reinvigorated praise
Dear friend, you need hope. (I know, you are saying, “That’s my problem; I’ve lost hope.”)
Hope is built upon faith.
Faith is the gracious gift of God. You cannot work this up in yourself. Your friends cannot give you faith. Your pastor is futile in this regard. Oh, you can fake it, but you can’t make it, You either have it or you do not. (I know, you are saying, “That’s my problem, I’ve lost faith.”)
Faith is the gracious gift of God and he gives it through the Word, through Prayer, through Worship, and through Christian Fellowship. Therefore, heed the wisdom of God. Grab your Christian brothers and sisters, go to God together, cry a river of tears, let your questions fly, and then get in the Word.
This is where God’s Spirit moves.
This is where and how God’s Spirit gifts fresh grace.
This is where and how God’s Spirit grants revived faith.
This is where and how God’s Spirit builds renewed hope.
And this is how you will find yourself offering forth reinvigorated praise even in your time of tribulation and tears.
Want help? Call your pastor. Don’t have a pastor? Email me at email@example.com. I know someone who would love to encourage you in your time of need.