There have been many occasions in 2020 to make us feel hopeless. Sometimes the holidays make those down days worse. In Psalm 42-43, David repeats this phrase three times: “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him” (Ps. 42:5, 11, Ps. 43:5). Psalms 42 and 43 go together like one song with three verses and one chorus. The inscription at the top says it is a maskil, which is a Hebrew word indicating a teaching psalm. In these two psalms David is teaching us how to handle the blahs, blues, and dark days. What has you down this Christmas? I want to give you four reasons to put your hope in God.
His Presence is With Us
David begins, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Ps. 42:1-2). Denominations cannot give us hope. Religious rituals cannot give us hope. Only God can give us hope and that is why David longed for His presence. Being a believer does not make you exempt from the down seasons of life. Some of the greatest believers who God used mightily experienced down times and down days. Moses, Elijah, and Jonah all prayed to die. David was discouraged. Being down doesn’t make us less spiritual, but it should drive us to God. Just because you don’t see God working or understand how He’s working, does not mean He is not working. God’s presence is with you, and when you have Him, you have all you need. You have His power, peace, provision, protection, etc.
His Face is Toward Us
In Psalm 42:5 David praises God for the help of His countenance. In verse 11, he refers to God as “the help of my countenance” (emphasis added). God sees you and He knows your needs. He has His eye on you and if you will get a fresh glimpse of Jesus in your circumstances, His countenance will change your countenance! God’s face is not frowning or worried, so why should ours be? “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (Nu. 6:24-26).
His Love is Over Us
David said, “I will say to God my Rock, ‘Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning’” (Ps. 42:9). Ten times he asks, “Why?” It is OK to ask why. On the cross Jesus said, “My God, My God why…” No one talks to you more than you do. What are you telling yourself? Despite the why, three times David tells himself to hope in God. God knows the why and one day He will tell us and wipe every tear from our eyes. Even if you knew the answer now, it would not take away the pain. We do not live on explanations but on promises. David recalls, “The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me” (Ps. 42:8). Depression and discouragement are often worse at night, but God can give you songs in the night. God is love. His banner over us is love. He has not forgotten you. Repeat to yourself this week the encouragement to hope in God. Recall His love for you. Nothing is stronger than the love of God and nothing can separate you from the love of God (Rom. 8:38-39).
His Light is Guiding Us
“Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me…” (Ps. 43:3). Never doubt in the dark what God has taught you in the light. He will never leave you or forsake you! I have seen the light shining in the darkness! John 1:5 says, “Light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not [has not, cannot, and will not] overcome it.” God has a plan and purpose for our lives. When you have decisions to make and you don’t know what to do, seek Him. God will give you light to direct your path. Light dispels darkness. Confusion is not of God. The God who said, “Let there be light,” is the one we worship.
What we all need this Christmas is not more religion but a relationship with the living God. We need faith and we need to be reminded that we can have hope because of His presence with us, His face toward us, His love over us, and His light guiding us.