Journey with Daniel

Journey with Daniel

“The Challenge Of Despair”

Categories: Seeing God Through the Psalms

The Challenge Of Despair

Psalms 42 and 43 deals with a common problem of many… depression. Three times the question is asked, “Why are you in despair, O my soul?” (42:5,11 and 43:5). This tells us even God’s people are not immune to despair. If those people who are great like David, Elijah and Jeremiah faced serious bouts of discouragement and depression, then who am I? David gives us three pieces of advice.

First, he says get your mind off yourself and get it on God (42: 1-4) Sounds simple enough, right? See his yearning for God: “As the deer pants for the water brook…My soul thirsts for God, of the living God. So, my soul pants for God. When, oh, when shall I appear before God? Where is God?”  His feelings have not been relieved (vs. 3). He is discouraged because his questions have not been answered (vs. 5,9). Where is God? Here he is drowning in sorrow and trouble (vs.7). His friends are quick to say, “Just trust in God.” But no one seems inclined to comfort and help. He reflects on how things were. How he used to be involved and how he once was used. He went to the house of God with a voice of joy and praise but now is left behind. When you get old and it seems all have left you behind, be encouraged by hope in God. He has not forgotten you. It is so easy to be discouraged by what once was and now is but hope in God does not fail. 

Second, David says stop looking at the past and look to the future. We are fascinated with the future and nostalgic about the past.  The past is never as good we remember it being and the future will not be as fulfilling as we imagine. It is okay to remember the past if we remember what God has done for us. Remember how He saw us through our difficulties and discouragements (vs. 6). In the future David knows God will give him victory (43: 1). He knows God will protect him (43:2). He knows God will direct his life (42:3) He knows God will bring him joy (42:4). 

Third, stop searching for reasons and start resting on the promises of God. In these two Psalms there are thirteen questions. We need to ask questions but do not ask about and question God’s love or His motive and judgment. Even if God had answered every single one, we still live on His promises, not His explanations. Explanations may satisfy curiosity but only promises give strength. There are five promises. God promises to care for us (42:1).  He promises to always be faithful (42:8).  He promises to forgive us (43:3).  He promises to be our strength and refuge (42:6). He promises to lead us (43:3). 

“Standing on the promises of Christ my King, through eternal ages let His praises ring; glory in the highest, I will shout and sing, standing on the promises of God. Standing on the promises that cannot fail, when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, by the living word of God I shall prevail, standing on the promises of God. Standing on the promises of Christ, the Lord, bound to Him eternally by loves strong cord, overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword, standing on the promises of God” (R. Kelso Carter).

Action items:

  1. What we think affects how we feel about ourselves. 
  2. When we think about God, we find encouragement, not discouragement.
  3. The past is never as great as we remember. The future is yet to be. 
  4. God’s promises give us stability.