The Cry of a Heart // Psalm 42

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’ These 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.

Why 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.

My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock: ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?’ As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God’

Why 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.
— Psalm 42

Have you ever been in one of those seasons that feels incredibly heavy and lonely? Where your soul longs for nourishment and relief? These seasons are our hardest and can cause deep reflection on both who we are and who God is.

David is in one of these seasons in Psalm 42. In all honesty, he's depressed. He's been exiled and is on the run, in hiding, and mourning what has been left behind. Can you imagine being driven from your home, away from your family, with people looking to harm you? It was a very hard season for David and we get a glimpse into that as he shares with great vulnerability.

David opens the psalm with perhaps some of the most quoted words from the entire book. He's recounting his days of being in the house of God and worshipping, and reflecting on where he is now. He misses being in God's presence and craves it with such intensity that he relates it to a beer panting for water.

What I want us to really focus on today are the words that follow. I pray verses 1-2 over you; that you would crave the presence of God! And not just in the difficult times, but in the good. I pray that kind of thirst would be evident in your life in every season!

In what follows, David begins to do something very important and it's a lesson I hope we all take in. David gets a hold of himself.

It's easy when going through a hard time to get caught up in the emotions and sit in the unlovely. I've definitely been there! The trouble with sitting in the unlovely is that your view becomes narrow and hope begins to diminish. It focuses on what's going wrong and not in what God can do.

That's why David gets a hold of himself here. He knew that sitting in the unlovely wouldn't do him any good, and furthermore, that hope in God is a much better place to sit in.

No doubt you're going to need this tucked away in your head for some hard time down the road. Perhaps your season isn't hard now but it will be. And if it is hard now, take this in.

When you're downcast and sad, perhaps depressed, get a hold of yourself. David begins to talk to himself, asking his soul why he's downcast. Why are you downcast when God will act! That's cause for hope!

When you're in your hard seasons, it's okay to be sad or to struggle with what's going on. But there comes a point--and it can happen even while you're sad--that you begin to remind yourself of who God is. Remember when He's shown up for you before and encourage yourself with the hope that God will show up for you again.

Hope is powerful. Hope can keep you going. Hope can get you through the season. Hope is faith--faith that God is who He says He is and will be the good Father who takes good care of His children. A good parent--and indeed our God is--doesn't forsake His children. He might seem silent but He's always there.

Again, in closing, David tells himself to hope. If you're wanting to get a perspective shift in your difficult season, take notice of David's response in this psalm. Getting a hold of yourself is purposefully placing your perspective in hope. Hope in God.