“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:5
Do you ever feel just like that – down, discouraged, and tired of the struggle, but telling yourself at the same time what you know to be true? “Put your hope in God.” Sometimes it’s nothing more than a rehearsed and a learned response for some, the right thing to do. Not that obedience is ever easy, but there are certainly times when it’s harder than others, times when running in the opposite direction seems far easier than obedience, yet God calls us to a life of obedience and to live in obedience to His Word…always, no matter what. But what about the times when it’s really hard to obey?
Psalm 42 seems to have a lot to say about that difficult question. Join me there, and take a moment to read through it in its entirety…
The writer of this Psalm expresses throughout a desperation and anguish of his soul. Life is just not easy for him right now. Trouble seems to come at him from every angle, and in his struggle to find meaning in his pain, he wrestles with God and poses many questions. What utterly astounds me, though, is how he repeatedly brings his focus back to his greatest need…God. Although many of his needs seemingly go unmet, he understands that it is God and God alone that will quench his parched soul. The beauty of verse one captivates me every time I read it:
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”
Have you ever craved God that much? Have you ever been virtually dehydrated for His touch and thirsty for His presence in your life? Obedience when it’s hard is running to God in the middle of your desperation as opposed to running from Him in your self-sufficiency. Although the Psalmist recounts with sorrow the wonderful places he has been and longs to return to (verse 4), he immediately follows this with the reminder to put his hope in God, not in his past. Isn’t it such a tendency of ours to wish back to the good times, to the places we once were and think how much greener the grass is on the other side? The grass is green where you water it. Remember that, and be reminded by Psalm 42 that our hope must rest in God alone. It is when we choose to place our hope in God that obedience follows. Notice in verse 5 the questions that are immediately followed by committed obedience despite the circumstances.
“For I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
Obedience chooses to act on faith as opposed to feelings. The feelings of the Psalmist at this point are discouragement and despair. However, by faith he defaults to obedience. He chose to praise God in his storm. He chose to remember the Lord in his struggle (verse 6). He chose to meditate on God’s love that is with him always (verse 8). He chose obedience, even when it was hard.
One of my favorite Christian artists, Kari Jobe, just released a new album recently, and I’ve been so blessed by my times of worship while listening to it. One song in particular speaks to my heart in regards to this theme of obedience. It’s titled “Steady My Heart”. Here are just a few of the lyrics:
Wish it could be easy
Why is life so messy
Why is pain a part of us
There are days I feel like
Nothing ever goes right
Sometimes it just hurts so much
But You’re here
I know I can trust You
Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart
Perhaps Psalm 42 is the reminder that we need today…obedience, even when it’s hard, is the choice we must make. He will steady your heart. Run to Him.
- What difficult obedience is God calling you to right now? Why is it hard for you to obey Him in this?
- In response to Psalm 42, journal a prayer to God asking Him to help you to respond to all situations with obedience.