Season After Pentecost: The Psalm Passages – Walking to depths of human experience with the psalmist

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?” (Psalms 42:1-2)

I had said previously, when I sat down to contemplate and write on the psalms, I do not do well in that task when I am in an “grumpy mood.” But when I am in a sad and soulful mood, whether spirits low or high, the psalms speak to me . . . and speak for me. And tonight, my soul longs for the Lord. The words of the psalmist gives voice to what I feel inside.

“My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?” (Verse 3)

And with the psalmist I wonder, where is God when I am said and feeling all alone. When my soul is grieved, I feel like the Divine is occupied in a different distant place – far removed from where I feel I am now.

These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.” (Verses 4)

The psalmist and I say, there times when we felt part of God’s family, and felt connected to God through praise and worship. But those times are in the past; and we hope and pray may be in the future . . . . . .

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.” (Verses 5 to 6)

It is not vain sadness, beloved reader, to think back on times with God in fond remembrance and look forward to those times again. But right now, in this moment, we – the psalmist and I – feel alone. But we are reminded even if our sorrows seem to overwhelm us, we are not alone . . . really.

“Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” (Verses 7 to 8)

Some times when one is alone, those become the times one is the most keenly aware of the presence of God. What we think is a void in our lives is really our making space for where God will be.

I say to God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?”
As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?”

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.” (Verses 9 to 11)

In this state, one can become one’s own worse enemy. Memories of what had been come to the forefront, and our doubts, fears and sadness rise up. But in those dark moments, is often when the light can come shining through. It is when we feel our deepest hunger for God, that we call upon the Lord; our hope is born.

Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; from those who are deceitful and unjust
deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you cast me off?
Why must I walk about mournfully because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Psalm 43: 1-2)

And we find, the psalmist and I, that God is mightier than all our fears and sadness. What seems to be the “enemy” is revealed as shadows that are dispelled by the light of God.

O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling.
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.” (Verses 3 – 4)

Our sadness and fear becomes a mystery to us. How did this happen to us? In the revelation of a God who is with us, how did we come to this place of tears?

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.” (Verses 5 to 6)

It can be an exercise in faith and spiritual discipline to plunge one’s self into the world of the psalmist; to let the pondering of the psalmist to become our own. Psalms 42 and 43 are very similar in breadth and depth, sort of plaintive cries part one and part two. It does not mean, beloved reader, that one has sunk to great depths; just that one explores those depths in order to appreciate the heights of joy and communion with God. Fling yourself upon the Lord, beloved reader. Sum up your burdens, your sorrows and fears, and cast them before the Lord. And let the light of our Lord dissolve away the dark part of you life. Selah!

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About Carole Boshart

I have two blogs on WordPress. "A Simple Desire" which is based on the daily "Sips of Scripture" published and sent out by Third Way Cafe. "Pondering From the Pacific" is based on my reflections on the world - sometimes religious/spiritual, and sometimes not so much.

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