I used to go to the house of God under the pro–tection of the Mighty One.
My friend, a faithful pastor for 25 years, was shaken by the death of a close friend. That same week his 20–year–old daughter lay in a specialized hospital without a diagnosis. Walking to her room, he considered stopping along the way to offer comfort to a dying woman. But then he thought, “How can I speak words of hope? I don’t know anymore if I believe or not.”
Psalm 42 describes that feeling of spiritual emptiness. The psalmist lost his spiritual GPS. He used to be close to God. He used to know what it was like to be spiritually alive. He used to know how to find God. He used to give lessons on God. But now it feels as if God took off without leaving a forwarding address.
Psalm prayers don’t step outside the church to offer doubt—they speak our doubt from inside the community of faith. “Why, my soul, are you downcast?” writes the psalmist. “Why so disturbed within me?” Then he tells himself, “Put your hope in God.” The writer even declares courageously to the Lord, “My soul is downcast … therefore I will remember you …”
Praying the psalms keeps us from panic when our feelings of faith fade. Jesus once asked a father with a sick son, “Do you believe?” The desperate and weary father responded with beautiful honesty: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” Lord, help me put my hope in you and praise you, “my Savior and my God.” Through Jesus, Amen
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