What do you put your hope in? Is your hope in a person, a job, an answer? The Bible teaches us our hope is to be in the Lord. Yet, so often lately the Lord is showing me, my hope has been in the wrong things and when these things fail, my hope is shattered and my faith shaken.
King David understood despair better than most. He knew what it was like to prosper and he knew what it was like to have nothing. At the beginning of Psalm 42, David says, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. When can I go and meet with God?” Growing up we sang this as a song but as I read it recently I was struck by the second verse which David says, “My tears have been my food day and night. While men say to me all day long, where is your God?” Somehow this line of the Psalm was taken out of the song. I do believe David longed for the Lord, he longed to meet with God. Yet, I also believe David was longing for the Lord’s deliverance and help. This Psalm was written as many of David’s Psalms when he was on the run. He could not just go to the temple and meet with God, he was probably living in a cave. When David writes this, he is in despair, his heart is in agony and day and night he is in tears. Everywhere he goes people taunt him saying, where is your God.
For 8 months now our family has been waiting on the Lord, praying for open doors and living with family. There have been numerous days when tears have been my food both day and night. Days I have sensed people laughing at us and saying, “Where is this God you serve? When are you just going to give up? Don’t you know He has forgotten you?” Days, like David I have longed for the Lord and panted after his deliverance.
In verse 4, we see David has no qualms with pouring out his heart before God and as he prays, he remembers. He remembers how things use to be and my guess is, he wished things were still the same. Isn’t it funny how we always remember the good and rarely remember the bad. I can’t count the number of times I have remembered the good ol days and longed for them, yet if I’m honest, they werent’ always as good as I remember.
In verse 5, we find that all this longing for deliverance and remembering has led to despair. David’s hope has been in getting out of his situation, it has been in returning to his former days. Then David recognizes that his hope must be in the Lord. As we have waited these months, there have been many times I have gotten my hopes up, thinking we had our answer, our open door, our deliverance. Only to be disappointed when plans have fallen through. Each time I kick myself for getting excited and each time I remember David’s words, “Put your hope in God.” When our hope is in Him, He proves faithful and our hopes are never crushed or destroyed.
In verse 4 David remembered his past, yet in verse 6 he says, “My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.” As David remembers and thinks upon God he is reminded of God’s love for him. He is reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness and goodness. How easy it is to forget the goodness of the Lord in tough times. How quick we are to focus on our situation that God’s faithfulness and love. How easy to lose perspective and feel all hope is gone.
Yet, verse 9 shows us clearly David wasn’t perfect, he was human. For though he recognized his hope must be in the Lord alone and choose to trust in Him. Doing this does not remove David’s present reality. He is still on the run, he is still being mocked and shunned and because of this, he feels forgotten by God.
Feelings I have found are super powerful. Feelings are real. So the question is what do we do with these feelings? There are days I FEEL forsaken, forgotten, and that God surely doesn’t care. Yet, I know, based on Scripture these real feelings are nothing but lies. For they contradict the very Word of God. David feels forgotten yet he ends the Psalm by saying again, “Why are you downcast O my soul? So disturbed within me. Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God.” David has determined that despite how he feels, he will put his hope in God and He will praise Him. he will trust God, that deliverance is at hand and will praise Him in advance for what He will do.
This is no easy task and is impossible apart from God. Yet, on days when I feel as David,and I pray, choosing to trust God despite how I feel, by grace through faith. He always proves Himself faithful and carries me through. This changes not my situation and I may struggle again before the day is through, but my hope must be in Him. For He is the only one who will never let me down. So I challenge us all, let us put our hope in God, nothing else and let us remember his goodness and praise Him.