Where Is Your God?
Father, replenish and renew my heart toward You. You are my Lord and my God.
Read PSALM 42:1-11
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Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
“‘Miqra,’ the Hebrew word for Bible, properly means ‘calling out’ … of God to us. … If we truly answer God there is nothing that we may not say to him” (Eugene Peterson). What a wonderful truth.
Jonathan Aitken is a British politician who was jailed for perjury in 1999. Already interested in Christianity, he started to read the Bible in prison and eventually came to faith. In 2004 he wrote a book called Psalms for People under Pressure, which includes his reflections on Psalms 42 and 43. Although separated in our Bible now, they were, in fact, originally one literary unit, as the refrain of 42:5,11 and 43:5 makes clear. We can’t be certain what situation occasioned them or why they became separated. The imagery here is vibrant and breathtaking–from a deer in the wilderness to a roaring waterfall and mighty waves breaking on the shore. They spiral in and out of desperation, longing and praise, beautifully illustrating the tension of a life of faith.
Aitken writes, “I have made so many mistakes in my life that going back over old ground with the wisdom of hindsight can be unbearable.” And that may be a large reason for the psalmist’s lament. “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” asks the refrain (42:5,11; 43:5). The psalmist brings his sorrow directly to God. In the spiritual valleys in which we find ourselves (42:1), when unbelievers taunt us (42:3), it is hard to remember the joy of fellowship (42:4). In the times when God feels silent and distant (42:9), it’s hard to remember his presence (42:8).
So it’s no surprise that these two psalms start from a place of longing. “My soul pants for you,” begins Psalm 42, before moving on to the complaint “Why have you forgotten me?” (42:9). This longing is the crux of the “now-but-not-yet” life we live, with glimpses of God that are a poor reflection of the full glory that we are promised (1 Cor. 13:12) when we see him face to face!
What causes you to feel God has moved away from you? How can this psalm help you when you wonder where God is?
Lord, I know what happens when You seem far away. Sin, a reordering of priorities, and neglect can creep into my life. In my heart, I long for You today.