During autumn we have been praying and preaching through some of the Psalms together as church family. I hope it has been a blessing to you. I wonder if you have a favourite Psalm; or one that means a lot to you? Undoubtedly, for me Psalm 91 has always resonated strongly and I love how the NIV puts the final verses:
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honour him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Isn’t that beautiful? What promises, what hope, what a God!
We recently looked at Psalm 42 in our morning services, which although quite famous, is not always to be found at the top of any favourites list. Could this be because it is a Psalm about struggling and the distance between the Psalmist and his God? Perhaps, we are drawn more easily to the Psalms of praise and encouragement? One of the most comforting aspects of reading and re-reading the Psalms is that they are at times so human, down to earth and can speak so directly to our own lives. So perhaps Psalm 42 should be much nearer the top of our favourites list! It is relatable and reveals a deep truth: we can have hope, even when we feel far from God.
There are many reasons we can feel distant from God; illness, death, work, school, pressures etc – circumstances which can make us feel like God is far away, and the immediate issues can cloud His presence.
What do we do when we feel far from God? Well, perhaps like the Psalmist we need to acknowledge our struggles and dissatisfaction both with the world, our circumstances and also in our relationship with God whilst recognising that this struggle is itself proof that our faith matters to us.
If like the Psalmist we are feeling guilty, having doubts, feeling spiritually dry, irrelevant, or even lacking confidence in our salvation... we can bring these thoughts to God, He has heard them before and He can take it! He is the crucified God and has born our pain on the cross – it is ok to scream and shout if we need to. These are normal thoughts – and they are signs that we have a faith and that it matters to us. When we are discontent it is an indication that we want more of God. We, like the Psalmist, crave God’s presence, not simply an end to the struggles themselves.
I pray we continue to hear God’s voice through the Psalms and go deeper together into his presence. Let’s trust him even when we feel he is not near. It is a hard thing to do, but he is our Dad who loves us and is good.