Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you . . . Ps 42:5–6
They say that talking to yourself is the first sign of madness. I say, it’s one way to have an intelligent conversation! At first glance, this psalmist seems to be on the madness side of the equation, his soul has every reason to feel anguish if we read the remainder of the psalm—misery, abandonment, and humiliation seem to be the psalmist’s lot.
I’m sure you, like me, feel completely justified when distraught under oppressive conditions, particularly when life with Christ promises peace and joy. Surely life should have a “Somewhere, Over the Rainbow” quality about it. From the intense longing created within us, we all dream of that final place of perfect, secure happiness.
So, why does the psalmist consider his soul’s distress misplaced when he feels so tortured? The first verse hints at the answer, where the centre of his longing is not somewhere beyond the rainbow, but an intense thirst for God. Moreover, the psalm shows that looking back over history confirms his confidence in the faithfulness of God.
As some of you are aware, I have dealt with serious health problems over the past two years. I am somewhat surprised at my own calm reaction; certainly, misery at the pain, but no sense of worry or panic about the outcome. A lifetime of trusting God, and knowing my eternal affairs are settled is my confidence. And there are many more like me!
The difficulty you or I may be going through now is a reality check on our faith. But a glance at God’s care for us in the past supports our trust in Him during our present difficulty—we “will yet praise Him.” Our greatest asset as Christians is the hope set before us; life’s harassments are passing, but the certain fulfilment of our longings is eternal.