ODJ: a Psalm for the Struggle

March 3, 2013 

READ: Psalm 42 

I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you (v.6).

It was the kind of take-away restaurant where you stand in line, place your order and then step aside to wait for your food to appear. After I did just that, a young man took my place at the front of the queue. He ordered his food by using gestures and broken words. Paying was difficult for him because one of his wrists was turned so that his fingers pointed back to his body. And walking to a table meant overcoming the uneven function of his legs. This young man struggled physically, yet courageously.

In a similar way many of us struggle with internal impairments—grief, addiction, depression and anxiety. Daily tasks can become nearly impossible when these problems result in exhaustion, restlessness and preoccupation. The psalmist who wrote Psalm 42 described his inner issues this way: “Day and night I have only tears for food” (v.3); “My heart is breaking” (v.4); “I am deeply discouraged” (v.6). As a result of these feelings, questions crept into his mind: “Why is my heart so sad?” (v.5); “Why must I wander around in grief?” (v.9).

Woven in with the psalmist’s despair was a sturdy cord of hope. He reached out to the One who could help, declaring, “I will praise Him again—my Saviour and my God” (vv.5-6). During sleepless nights, he sang melodies centred on God and prayed—as he put it—“to God who gives me life” (v.8). He knew that, despite his distress, God was sustaining him at that time—daily pouring affection on him (v.8).

Actively remembering God (v.6) inspired the psalmist to put one foot in front of the other. His practises helped him persevere despite intense emotions and unanswered questions. If you’re struggling today, reach out to the living God and remember that “those who trust in the Lord will find new strength” (Isaiah 40:31).

—Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Joshua 7:1-26 ‹

Read Psalm 145:14 to see God’s heart for people who struggle. Read Luke 19:41-44 to see what broke Jesus’ heart.
What does the friendship of Jesus (John 15:15) mean for Christians who battle with emotional problems? What kind of practices can complicate or alleviate a person’s inner struggles?