Daily D – Psalm 42:5
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (NIV)
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! (NLT)
Sometimes I need a good talking to. The best way I have found to talk to myself is with words of truth and life. The psalms in particular teach me how to talk to God and to myself.
This psalm is one of the most beloved in this book full of soaring praise and deepest grief. The television show House of Cards included the woman who succeeded her husband as president talking to another woman about his funeral. The new president mentioned this psalm was the Bible reading and the other woman declared this was a good selection indeed.
My favorite part of the psalm is the verse above, particularly as rendered in the New Living Translation.
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!
These words of hope, of confident trust in a better future, stand closely akin to Romans 8:28. Let us acknowledge Proverbs 25:20 here as well. The Message communicates this parallel truth vibrantly.
Deep in the depths of despair, in a moment of loss, is not the time to sing happy songs. It is not time to point people toward praise and thanksgiving. It is not time to remind a person all things work together for good.
Because we know the end of the story and how it is the best of all goodness, we can lean into the future with hope. We must, however, honestly confront deep loss and how it wounds. We must deeply feel our feelings. We must grieve. There is something healing about tears. They most honestly express our pain. They most visibly communicate how much emotional heaviness hurts.
Tears also have a way of putting steel in our spines. They help us stand tall again. They help us say with King David, “I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!”
They help us stand on the sure foundation of Paul’s declaration, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” (Romans 8:28).
They help us return to a place of praise and thanksgiving far richer than any we have previously known as perspective helps us see and feel and experience what we never have before.
There is a widening in our souls where we have met significant loss and discovered God’s healing grace. There comes a time when we look back with appreciation for the unseen hand of God guiding us through the stages of grief. There comes a time when, because we looked back in honesty, we can look forward with anticipation of joy’s return.
Sing happy songs as often as you are able. Set them aside for a season when great loss consumes moments and days and lingers into a season we will never forget.
Listen to The Message again, this time from Psalm 56:8:
Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.
Our Father in heaven is intimately acquainted with our praise, thanksgiving, and tears. Each is precious to him. I am confident the most precious is the clear bottle of our tears because of how it declares our deepest understanding of what matters most.
I will sing happy songs again, but first, I will talk to God, talk to myself, and weep away my loss.
Our Father, thank you for preserving these words for the last three thousand years so that we can use them today to give meaning to this time and place. These moments reveal your kindness and compassion. These truths give perspective. These words remind us how the life you give endures and the love you bestow wins. Amen.
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Psalm 139:17, 18 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
2 Corinthians 5:1-5 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.