Daily D – Psalm 42:5
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! PSALM 42:5 (NLT)
Yesterday morning, Palm Sunday, my bride and I participated in the Lord’s Supper as our pastor led us via an internet worship experience. We had bread and juice, but it was not the kind of thing we receive when we gather together with other believers in a church building. No matter. We were still humbled by the simple reminder of God’s amazing grace.
The summer after I stopped serving as a pastor, we worshiped at a large, well-known church in Houston. They had a Saturday evening service. Each week, unlike most Baptist churches, that church participated in the Lord’s Supper. Not speaking the words and not administering the ordinance grieved me. Receiving the bread and juice humbled me. I wept every time.
Remembering those moments yesterday morning, and pondering them again now, serves as a reminder that there are times when all is not well in our worlds. We are not the first to feel this way. Most likely, we will not be the last. How have the generations who have gone before us handled their dark nights of the soul? How have they endured darkened days?
Psalm 42 has comforted and strengthened many. It has inspired many songs. The first verse alone is firmly implanted in many an imagination: “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God,” (v. 1).
David the King says his heart breaks as he remembers how things used to be (v. 4). He walked among the crowd of worshipers. He led the procession to worship, singing with joy, giving thanks, enjoying the celebration. That was then. This was now.
You and I know something of such loss and disruption. We look back and lament what we cannot now enjoy. Even so, when we hunger and thirst for God as David the King did, we will be able to look forward in hope as surely as he did.
David did not allow his present darkness to settle down upon him as a suffocating enclosure. Instead, he encouraged himself in the LORD (1 Sam. 30:6) by confidently declaring that this was not how his story would end. Discouragement was real. Sadness wore him down. Hope in God, however, put a song in his heart. He was not merely whistling past the graveyard. He was awakening a new dawn (Psalm 108:2).
And so we too can sing a new song. We can start with an old one and begin writing another testimonial to God’s goodness and faithfulness. We can take comfort from every reminder of God’s deliverance in every age now past. We can take hope that he who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, will again do what only he can do.
Sooner than we fear, but not as soon as we would like, we will return to restaurants, sporting events, and worship gatherings with family and friends. In the meantime, we can focus on our Father in heaven with thirst which refuses to be quenched by anything else.
In a devastatingly dark time of captivity and exile, God gave Jeremiah words of hope. Not only did he have good plans for his people (v. 11), but he wanted to be known and experienced in what must have seemed like impossible circumstances. He said, “In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me,” (vv. 12, 13).
We can sing and pray with David and Jeremiah. God is listening. God wants to be found by us. God wants to give us hope and a special future. Sooner than we think, we will sing new songs. Sooner than we think, we will praise our Father in heaven. Let us live in the light of that new day. Let us join God in what he is doing all around us so that we become tools in his hands as he builds a better world.
I will put my hope in God.
Our Father, our hope is in you. You are our only hope. You are the only hope we need. We will not look to government, guns, guts, or grit to get us through this time. We will depend on you. Lead us through this valley of the shadow of death into the brilliance and provision of the special future you have for us. Use us to bring help, hope, and healing to all we encounter along this journey through these days. Amen.
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Jeremiah 18:1-4 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
Philippians 1:4-6 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Jeremiah 17:7, 8 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
2 Chronicles 35:25 Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments. (NIV)