“Now I am deeply discouraged,Psalm 42:6-10 NLT
but I will remember you—
even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan,
from the land of Mount Mizar.
I hear the tumult of the raging seas
as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life.
“O God my rock,” I cry,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I wander around in grief,
oppressed by my enemies?”
Their taunts break my bones.
They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”
I take so much comfort from the psalms, but not just the ones about God’s peace and my praise. Those are nice too, but the psalms that really grab my gut are the ones that ask God to strike all of their enemies in the jaw and knock out their teeth (Psalm 3), the ones where the psalmist feels abandoned by God (Psalm 22), the very same ones that Jesus himself quoted from the cross, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
The psalmists are never shy about expressing how they really feel, are they? There’s no candy coating of their fears, their anxieties, their anger, or their woes. The psalmist never smiles meekly and says, “I’m fine,” when their world is burning.
The world is burning! I am deeply discouraged! I feel like you’ve forgotten me, God! I’m wandering in my grief, I’m oppressed by my enemies, the whole world sees my suffering and sees no evidence of You in the midst of my sorrow.
In Psalm 42, the writer moves from lament to remembrance—there were good days when God was with me, remember?—and then he’s back at it again, O God! Why? The psalm ends again in a spirit of acquiescence—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. Despite my sadness, despite my desperation, despite my anxiety, I will hope yet in you, my God, because I have seen your faithfulness in the past, and even in the midst of my current anguish, when the world is foggy and frightening and I can’t see you, you have promised to be faithful to me. You have promised that your love is never far from me, even when it feels distant.
The psalms give me permission to lament, to grieve, to wail, and to celebrate, to rejoice, to praise, sometimes all at once, when the world beyond my home is burning and the cardinal sings its song and the sun rises again. There is beauty still. There is goodness still. There is light and peace and hope still. The psalms see all of it and use their full spectrum of emotions to name the broken, beautiful world. And from that place of naming, we can yet hope. We can yet praise.
Points of Reflection
- What are the dominant feelings you have throughout the day? How do you process negative emotions?
- What does it mean to you to know that even Jesus lamented, even Jesus felt abandoned by God?
For the Kids
- Is it okay to be sad? Is it okay to be angry?
- What makes you sad or angry?
Use an artistic medium of your choice (journal, write a poem, pray out loud, paint, make a collage, etc.) to capture the emotions you are feeling today, remembering that God made and holds space for all of your human emotions. God receives them and hears them and helps you move forward in his mercy.
Saint Agnostica is a collection of poems by Anya Krugovoy Silver. It is her final collection of poems. Anya completed the poems shortly before her death, and many of the poems speak to the challenges of living with stage four breast cancer, the beauty of life, and the inevitability of life’s end. My lamentations have shaken loose locusts she writes in “Among the Losses.” Poems, like the psalms, have a way of speaking to our hearts in ways that no other writing can do.
Listen or read online through your local library’s Libby app, or buy on Amazon.com or through a local independent bookstore near you.