Psalm 42 - A Lament Psalm of an Isolated Believer

By Evelyn Tarbell 

Psalm 42 is one of my “go to” psalms when I am discouraged or anxious.  This psalm is written by someone who is feeling cut off; he’s isolated and he ultimately turns to God for comfort.
The psalmist uses the metaphor of a deer that is thirsty and is searching for water.  He’s desperate for God just as a thirsty animal would be desperate for a drink of water.  This man even has people around him hinting that his God is nowhere to be found.

He’s remembering the times when he was able to worship with others.  He is lamenting not being able to be a part of a group with whom he can hear a “voice of joy and thanksgiving.”  He feels like he’s drowning.  He’s alone and he’s moving into despair; he feels that God has forgotten him and he’s losing hope.

Do you feel a bit like that now?  There are times when I do!  What we are experiencing now is unique.  Maybe you are feeling uncertain and lonely.  Maybe you’re anxious.
How do you respond to uncertainty?  How do you respond to anxiety?  How do you respond to that feeling that you’re drowning?

The psalmist keeps asking himself, “Why am I so down?”  Do you find yourself asking the same thing?

Just like the psalmist, you have a loving, living God who is very present in your situation.  He wants you to come to Him and tell him all that is on your mind.  

Friend, you just can’t see the whole picture.  Regardless of what you think you see, there is much more.  You are so limited in what you can understand because you are limited by space, time, your ability to think and your emotions.  None of us think about how helpless we are until something happens that strips us of the control we believe we have.  Is that where you are today?

Friends, you have a loving, living God who is very present in your situation.  So, you may think, why doesn’t He step in and remedy our situation and miraculously stop COVID-19?  He is certainly able, but for reasons only known to Him, He has not done that (at least thus far).
The psalmist takes you back where you need to be with his declaration of “Hope in God.”  His focus moves from his situation to the Person who created the universe and holds it all together, the Person who is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, and all those wonderful adjectives that describe God’s character.

You have every reason to hope in God.  This doesn’t mean that you aren’t prudent.  This doesn’t mean that you rail against the precautions that are put on you by authorities in our governmental leadership.

But, you can hope in God because He will not fail you.  He has taken care of you before and He is doing that now.   His care may not look like what you thought it would look like.  That’s most often the case.  But His care is full of grace and mercy.

Especially when you have an overwhelming sense of anxiety, remember that your hope is in God.  You always have any number of reasons to praise Him.  You may not be able to praise Him corporately right now, but praise can come anywhere, anytime.  It doesn’t have to be in hour-long sessions of a quiet time (although that’s wonderful).  It can be in quick thank you's that are quietly spoken all through the day or night.

When you focus on all the ways the Lord has blessed you, you have less time to think about the “what ifs” of life.  Ask the Lord to protect your mind and your heart.  Ask the Lord to help you remember all the times He has taken care of you.  He will bring instances to your mind.  Ask Him to help you remember that He has all the answers and that He is close by.  He is faithful to answer your prayers.

Just as the psalmist says that he will praise God again, there will be a day when this is over.  What will you have learned from this time?  Ask the Lord to teach you.  The psalmist longs to see God’s smile and to have His approval.  I’m sure that you want that, too. Just like the psalmist says, put your hope in God, for you shall yet praise Him.  We all will…    
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