By Not Known
Despair is a common human condition. Sometimes we feel miserable for no apparent reason. At other times we are troubled by internal or external problems. Whatever the cause, dispare can rob us of joy, sap our energy and leave us even less able to cope with life’s problems. left untreated, despair can damaged the depths of our being.
People of faith can certainly suffer from despair. Such is the writer of Psalm 42. He has once been gladly joyful in worship of the Lord and had even been a worship leader (v4). But all that is now gone. His soul was downcast (vs 5), he cried night and day (vs 3) and felt forgotten by God (v 9). He gives us some clues to his despair: he is on longer able to share in worship (vs 4) and he endures mocking from people who question his trust in God (vs 10)
We can learn from the honesty of this and many other Psalms. There is no reason to hide behind polite phrases when we pray. Rather, we can and should be honest to God because he is best able to understand and help us. Hebrews reminds us that we have a sympathetic friend in heaven (Heb 4: 14- 16) and a hymn puts it: ‘there is no grief that he cannot bear‘.
Despair is one reality. But God is another. And so the Psalmist reminds himself of the ‘night and day’ love of God (v8) and stirs himself up to put his trust in God, confident that he will again have cause to praise him (vv5 & 11). In the end, the curs for our despair is not to deny the problems or to rely on ourselves. Rather it is to throw ourselves on God. And, as we consider the depths of God’s love to us in Christ, we find an anchor for the soul.
All of that brings us to the first words of the Psalm:
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
The Psalmist teaches us not to look only at the reality of our despair. We are also to look at the reality of God. This is not an instant or total ‘fix‘ for our despair. However, in looking to God we are accessing the living waters that alone can satisfy our deepest thirst (Jn 4: 14). So, when we despair, let us drink deeply of God’s presence.