Disturbed and Downcast

Psalm 42

Disturbed

Twice the Psalmist asks, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?”

Can you identify? Something’s wrong, deep within. Perhaps, like the psalmist, we can’t figure out what’s wrong. The psalmist asks his soul for answers, but gets none.

Maybe we all have these experiences. Life comes at us hard and fast dragging us down to the depths of despair. When we come up for air we realize, something isn’t quite right.

Novocain

We may try to numb the pain within us. Addictions, distractions, or mindless entertainment take center stage and calms. At some point, the dissonance returns.

The psalmist asks his soul what’s wrong? Why are you downcast? Why so disturbed?

I try to run from such questions. I would rather numb the pain than face it. What if I did face it? What if I, like the psalmist, ask, “Why am I so downcast?” Where would that question take me?

Deep Yearning

As I look deeper, I see the Psalm starts with yearning, “As the deer pants…” creates a picture of a deer, after running, perhaps for his life, stops, and looks for water, panting. He needs water, so he searches for the life-giving spring.

The psalmist’s soul pants, yearning, desiring God. Something is amiss. Something isn’t quite right. He needs God, but God is nowhere to be found.

He remembers leading others to worship God, but those times are gone. Now, his tears serve as his food while others ask him “where is your God?” He doesn’t seem to know.

Maybe you can identify…I know I can.

He longs for the time when the deepness of God connects with the deepness of his soul, God’s presence washing over him like the seas, while wondering where his God has gone.

I can’t explain why the Psalmist feels this way. I can’t explain why I feel this way.

Hope in Despair

In the midst of his despair and discouragement, he remembers his hope, “Why are you downcast, disturbed? Put your hope in God…in him I will trust…and I will praise.”

Centuries later Jesus meets on a lonely night with his disciples. They can tell something is different. The conversation has been disturbing.

Jesus says he is leaving. They look at each other in shock. They wonder, “How can he leave? What will we do?”

Jesus, perceptive as always, knows their concern. He looks at them with love in his eyes and says,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled…believe in God…believe also in me (John 14:1).”

Why is your soul downcast? Why is it disturbed?

I’m not sure the psalmist ever discovered why. Maybe we won’t either. But the psalmist’s words offer us the same path Jesus did, “Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God.”

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me.” – Jesus

May your heart be comforted and may your soul find peace because Jesus is with you.

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