Summary: Everyone has trouble and the psalmist displays 3 attitudes that will allow God to draw us out of despair.
The Psalmist displays 3 things that will help overcome despair:
1. Passion (42:1)
a. There’s a story of a young American engineer who was sent to Ireland by his company. It was a two-year assignment. He had accepted it because it would enable him to earn enough to marry his long-time girlfriend. She had a job near her home in Tennessee, and their plan was to put their money together and put a down payment on a house when he returned. They wrote often, but as the lonely weeks went by, the girlfriend began expressing doubts that he was being true, exposed as he was to the beautiful Irish girls.
The young engineer wrote back. He declared with some passion that he was paying absolutely no attention to the local girls. “I admit,” he wrote, “that sometimes I’m tempted. But I fight it. I’m keeping myself for you.” In the next mail, the engineer received a package. It contained a note from his girl and a harmonica. “I’m sending this to you,” she wrote, “so you can learn to play it and have something to take your mind off those girls.”
The engineer replied, “Thanks for the harmonica. I’m practicing on it every night and thinking of you.” At the end of the two years, the engineer was transferred back to company headquarters. He took the first plane to Tennessee to be reunited with his girl. Her whole family was with her, but as he rushed forward to embrace her, she held up a restraining hand and said sternly, “Just hold on there a minute, Billy Bob. Before any serious kissin’ and huggin’ gets started here, let me hear you play that harmonica!”
(Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, pp. 17-18.)
b. He uses the imagery of a deer that is desperate for water. Perhaps like a deer fleeing from a predator and has frantically managed to elude death and in exhaustion finds a place to drink.
c. It’s not the picturesque scene of a deer quietly and gently taking short sips from a calm lake. This deer has been in trouble. This psalm writer is like that deer—in trouble and trying to find his way back to the source of life and refreshment.
d. What is it that he is panting for? It’s not blessings or gifts.
-He is seeking after God Himself. He is desperately pursuing the One who can satisfy the thirst of his soul.
-Could it be that God wants you to be hungering and thirsting more for Him and less for a solution to your problems.
-Unwanted circumstances bring us despair, and we want a change right now, when maybe all God is offering us is Himself.
-If God isn’t answering your prayer about your situation, maybe you should change the focus of your prayer. Focus on pursuing God.
e. Jesus said in Matthew 5, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” He went on to tell the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:14, “whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
2. Perspective (42:6 & 11)
a. Look at verse 6. In the middle of his desperation, by perseverance and endurance, he chooses to remember God.
b. He remembers what God did for the children of Israel through history.
-That’s why it’s important to have a history with God in the good times so you don’t forget Him in the bad times.
-Living in the past isn’t always good, but when it comes to remembering God’s blessings when you’re going through hard times, it is good.
-Verse 11 tells us this deliberately directs his mind toward what God has done for him.
-It’s been said that the value of your Christian faith are like a tea bag. You only see how strong it is when it’s placed in hot water. It’s easy to love God when all is well, but the proof of your love is when all is not well.
c. Bob Carlyle, who sang Butterfly Kisses a few years back, also sang these words in the song Heaven: “Sometimes this tired old world starts bringing my heart down, but you gotta bear the cross if you want to wear the crown.”
d. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Cor. 4:17)
3. Praise (4 times overall)
a. Notice verses 42:5 & 11, 43:5. In these 3 verses we find the chorus of the song he is composing. “Life is troublesome, but I am going to lift up God in my life.” “I’m going to praise Him no matter what.
b. In his book, The One-Minute Manager, Kenneth Blanchard recommends developing the practice of "one-minute praising," where the manager (or parent, spouse, etc.) tries to "catch someone doing something right" and then spend a full sixty seconds praising that person for the good deed. This is a lot more difficult than it appears. Where we might not find it difficult to criticize someone for even sixty minutes, many times we find it almost impossible to praise someone sincerely for a full minute. And this is true for the church as well. It seems that it can be hard for some people to Praise God.