September 12, 2019

The God Hunt – A 40 Day Soul Safari, Day 18

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:5 (NIV2011)

What is the source of your hope?  In whom do you put your hope?  Your hope will only last as long as the object in which you place it. Some put their hope in their possessions, their wealth or income, some put it in their beauty or strength, but all of these will change over time and usually not for the better. Just take a look at your driver’s license picture or attend a high school reunion to see how quickly you’ve changed. Solomon offers some wisdom to avoid putting your hope in things that change or won’t last.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 (NIV2011) 

“Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit. In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle.” Proverbs 23:4-5 (NLT2) 

The Bible is not saying there is not any value in these things but that they are a false sense of security and a poor source of hope. The one constant in life is change. Nothing remains the same. We need a source of hope that can never change. The Psalmist realized this when he surveyed the landscape of his life and searched for hope. It was like a drought in the Serengeti. Psalm 42 and 43 should be considered as one song with a refrain that’s repeated three times in Psalm 42:5, 11 and Psalm 43:5. In the New Living Translation it reads:

“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again – my Savior and my God!”

When you read these two Psalms as one song you feel the angst of a depressed soul. I love that the Bible doesn’t cover up the raw emotion that so many of its heroes of faith expressed in their journey.  It gives me hope when I face discouraging times and heartbreak.  This song of hope reveals just how desperate the singer was in the first few verses:

 “As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. Where can I find Him to come and stand before Him? Day and night I weep for His help, and all the while my enemies taunt me. ‘Where is this God of yours?’ they scoff.”  Psalm 42:1-3 (TLB)

Nothing like having critics around to kick you when you’re down! Compounding his pain were the memories of how it used to be when life was good.  In verse four he says,

“My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of great celebration!”  (NLT)

Maybe you feel his pain. You’re in a seemingly hopeless situation.  The props, that once gave you hope, have fallen and you feel forgotten and tossed aside. Joy has turned to sadness with no prospect of getting better.  What do you do?  The Psalmist made a deliberate choice.  As he reflected on his condition he declared, “I will put my hope in God!  I will praise Him again, my Savior and my God!” I think the punctuation says a lot here as well as the content of what he said.  Both declarations end with an exclamation mark!  Out of the anguish of his soul he shouted his song of hope! 

When you need hope, turn to the only source of hope that can never change! Thankfully the Psalmist realized this truth and it saved him from despair. “I am the LORD, and I do not change….” Malachi 3:6 (NLT2) Put your hope in God.  He never changes! You will praise Him again.