“Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help, and my God.”
~Psalm 43:5 (NRSV).
Beyond at times our own messy sense stands God. Why the Lord would remain—to us—at this distance, only heaven truly knows.
But God is known to reward those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6). Still, when we’re languishing in the pit of our incomprehensible despair we barely have sight of this, but the reminder from loving believers—“hold on!”
Psalms 42 and 43
Both of these psalms are often viewed together; as a package. For instance, there is a remarkable sameness to the final verses in each psalm (Psalm 42:11; 43:5). Indeed, the abovementioned verse appears to be the mantra, perhaps which led the psalmist to hold on in their distress as it’s also featured in Psalm 42:5-6. Psalm 43 might be considered an encore to Psalm 42, a mere embellishing of the pungency in mood started previously.
When Deep Calls to Deep
We do thirst and cry out for God most especially when we’re distressed and alone. Our desperation becomes even plainer when we actually think God’s somehow absent as we cry out to the Spirit that once not long back moved us.
There is a perplexing yet salient paradox in this issue of God’s supposed vacancy in the realm of our distress; it has real ministry value.
Think that if the psalmist—and notionally King David fits that mould—could be so deeply afflicted—and Jesus too (Matthew 26:38 and John 12:27) then we can also. We’re not in sad company at all!
There are times when the Dark Night of the Soul encapsulates us—God’s waves and billows, or those of life, wash over us again and again (Psalm 42:7). It is, for that time, insurmountable.
God ‘Allows’ Such Downcast Mood
It is a fantastic thought that such downcast moods are welcome hardly anywhere, but they find their home of homes in the Bible. God’s never one to gloss over the stinking interior of our lives. God wishes us to live truthfully before him; to cry out our prayers when we struggle to feel his Presence.
Such therapy the psalms and Job are, amongst other similar Scripture, that we can come to a place, at any time, where our downcast moods are matched by some of the greatest biblical characters... King David... Jesus.
God is there with us even if we don’t feel the Presence within. God speaks to us through the psalmist—even the psalmist who did not seem to find the light.
But the light is still there.
We are rewarded for the very fact of our earnestly seeking God. Little do we know, realise or even care at the time, but we’re growing in God never more assuredly than during these very times.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.