Hope in Darkness – Reflection on Psalm 43

Not Always Good Times

If I follow God, everything will work out alright. At least that is what I want to believe. In order to hang onto that belief, I have to forget history and that none of the Apostles had a particularly easy life. I have to forget that the 2nd-century church father Tertullian wrote, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” I must forget that some of the most faithful followers of Jesus experienced horrible circumstances.

I must also forget about psalms like Psalm 43. The psalmist, even though he has taken refuge in God, is beset by ungodly individuals oppressing him. He wonders where God is and why God has cast him off. It seems reasonable that if we take refuge in God, we won’t have to contend with such troubles, but apparently reality doesn’t work out that way.

We may not have ungodly people oppressing us, but we may feel castoff just the same. We take refuge in God, or at least we try to, but it feels like we are on our own.

Down Days

The psalmist asks, Why are we downcast? Why indeed?

I believe the psalmist when he says he takes refuge in God. I do wonder, however, if I do. Where do I place my hope and trust? I would like to believe I place my trust in God, but often I pour over my finances putting plans and strategies in place instead. I’m not sure I can experience the type of trust the psalmist did. I’m not sure I can ever know how it feels to only have God as a resource.

The psalmist was downcast. He was discourage. Did he pour over his finances? Did he strategize? No. He reminded himself where his hope was and that one day he would praise God, his help and hope.

Psalm 42 and 43 both use the same refrain, “Why are you cast down, O my Soul, and why are you disquieted within me?” causing scholars to believe the two Psalms, at one point, were a single Psalm. Just as in Psalm 42, the psalmist asks his soul why he is downcast and discouraged. His trust and hope are in God, shouldn’t he be exempt from trouble?

Hope in Discouragement

The psalmist reflects on his current situation, but he also looks to the future. Now, things are not going too well. Ungodly people are oppressing him. He asks God to grant him vindication. Presently, things are not going the way he would like them too.

In the midst of his discouragement, he recognizes that God is still with him. God’s light leads him to better places, ultimately, to where God dwells.

In Psalm 42 he writes that his soul yearns for God just as a dear, after a long run, pants for water. He dreams of a time when he is, once again, in God’s presence. He thinks of the day of exceeding joy, when he will praise and worship God. For this psalmist, he will worship God with the harp.

The psalmist knew that God’s light and truth would lead him to the presence of God. There he would find his source of joy leading him to praise and worship.

Hope in God’s Presence

Like the psalmist, you can have hope. As you draw near to God, he draws near to you (James 4:8). If you are willing, God will lead you by his light and truth. He will lead you to better places. He leads you to himself. There, in the presence of God you can find joy and peace. There you can find rest for your weary souls (Matthew 11:28). There you can find the one in whom you take refuge.

Why are you downcast? Hope bursts forth. Hope in God, that in the midst of difficult circumstances, God has not left. God is still with you.

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