ODJ: Hoping in God

March 28, 2018 

READ: Psalm 42:1-11 

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Saviour and my God! (v.11).

On the evening before his sister’s marriage in 1882, Scottish preacher George Matheson experienced great pain and loneliness. He’d relied on his sister for help with his work as a church leader, so he may have been worried and distraught over how he would cope without her. His emotions were probably also intensified by the memories of some years before when his fiancée, after learning he was going blind, broke off their engagement. That evening Matheson turned his anguish to prayer and, in mere minutes, wrote the now-beloved hymn, “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go”. He who’d felt abandoned found love and rest in the One who would never leave him.

This preacher didn’t deny the pain of loss and loneliness he felt, but expressed his true emotions in prayer—releasing his heart-cries to His loving Father. In doing so, he followed in the tradition of the psalmists, such as the sons of Korah, a group that ministered in the temple. The speaker in Psalm 42 conducts a dialogue with himself, alternating between crying out to God and reminding himself of His goodness. He seems to be speaking to his soul—telling himself not to fall into a miry pit of despair but to find “hope in God” (v.5). Though he was sad and discouraged, he knew God would pour His “unfailing love upon” him (v.8).

When we feel lonely or hopeless, by the power of the Holy Spirit we too can instruct our souls to trust in God. Whether we face a broken engagement, a changed work situation or some other hardship, the Spirit can help us cling to God’s promise—that He’ll never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). As we express our honest emotions, He can provide comfort and satisfy our deepest longings (Psalm 42:11).

—Amy Boucher Pye

365-day plan: 1 Samuel 17:32-58

Read Romans 8:35-39 for the apostle Paul’s description of why he trusted God. 
How can you prepare yourself for the next time you feel overwhelmed with emotions? Why is it vital for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit when we face challenges?