Summary: What’s the best way to deal with suffering? In this Psalm gives us a suprising lesson and a powerful insight into God’s healing power.
OPEN: Years ago, in an old stoddy community, a new doctor came to town. It was said he could cure anything and anybody, and everyone was amazed with what he could do - everyone except for Mr. Sweeny, the town skeptic.
Well, old Mr. Sweeny went to this ’miracle doctor’ to prove that he wasn’t anybody special. He went and told the doctor, "Hey, doc, I have lost my sense of taste. I can’t taste nothin’, can you help me?"
The doctor scratched his head and mumbled to himself a little, then told Mr. Sweeny, "What you need is jar number 47."
The doctor turned to his shelf of medicines and took down a jar and told Mr. Sweeny to put some of it in his mouth. Immediately, Sweeny spit it out, "This is gross!" he yelled.
"Well, Mr. Sweeny”, said the doctor, “ I believe I’ve just restored your sense of taste."
Angrily, Mr. Sweeny went home and fumed about his failure. But, one month later, he believed he had a solution to his problem, and went back to the doctor. "Doc,” he said “I’ve been having problems with my memory. I can’t seem to remember anything anymore!"
Now, Mr. Sweeny was very pleased with himself because he just knew he had finally stumped this new doctor and he waited as the doctor scratched his head, mumbled to himself a little. Finally, the doctor went over to the shelf with his medicines on it and said aloud “Well, Mr. Sweeny, I believe what you need is jar number 47..."
When the doctor turned around, Mr. Sweeny was no longer there… (pause for effect)
APPLY: It was said that this new doctor could cure anything. And he CURED Mr. Sweeny. Now, of course, Sweeny didn’t really suffer from taste or memory problems. His problem lay much deeper than that… but whatever problem he really had… this new doctor healed him of it. And what healed Mr. Sweeny was the memory of how something tasted.
The word of God teaches us that one of the best ways to fix things that are wrong in our lives and to heal the wounds of our souls is to “remember” certain things.
Many scholars believe that Psalm 42 was written by David in one of the darkest times of his life. Years before this David made a bad choice. He committed adultery with a beautiful woman named Bathsheba and as a result, he ruined her marriage and seriously damaged his own family. Now - because of that sin - he’s lost his home and his prestige… his son Absalom has turned against him. He’s been run out of Jerusalem and is in hiding in the wilderness.
(pause…) David has lost practically everything that has mattered to him.
Now he’s come to a cross roads in his life… and he has a choice to make. How’s he going to respond to this tragedy? And the choice David made is intriguing… because it’s not the kind of choice a lot of people make.
1. A lot of people respond to the tragedies of their lives by becoming angry at God.
They lash out at Him and deny His existence. They see God as somehow responsible for the hardship and pain they experience. Now in David’s case that was true - he had sinned and God was bringing a punishment upon him because of it. But many people who suffer aren’t being punished by God. But somehow they view as God as being to blame for their torment.
And because they blame God, they feel a need to hurt him. They become like a Mr. Sweeny and try to discredit the only one who can heal them. They become bitter, angry people, shaking their fists at the heavens forever attempting to hurt God by denying He exists. They cast away their faith thinking that this will help in some way to make up for their pain.
ILLUS: Shortly after the death of his wife a preacher named Arthur Gossip preached a sermon:
"I don’t understand this life of ours. But still less can I comprehend how people in trouble and loss and bereavement can fling away peevishly their Christian faith.
In God’s name, fling to what? Have we not lost enough without losing that too? You people in the sunshine may believe in the faith, but we in the shadow MUST believe it. We have nothing else."
Many people turn against God in their darkest hours… and I want you to know something. This is not an abnormal response to pain and tragedy. In fact, experts tell us that one of the major stages of grief is anger toward God. And I don’t think God is particularly offended by this. He’s a big God… He has big shoulders… and He does love us deeply.