“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” – Psalm 42.2From Sam Lomas:
Today marks the start of Lockdown Two. Although we may feel a little better prepared this time around, I am sure that for many, the return of increased restrictions brings with it immense difficulties. A challenge for a lot of us is that once again we cannot worship together in our church building. This can be hard to come to terms with for a lot of our church family.
Psalm 42 can help us to express the emotions we may feel relating to this loss. The writer of the psalm was discouraged because God’s people had been exiled (forcibly moved away) to a place far from Jerusalem and so could not worship in the Temple. The psalmist is downcast and grieving the loss of worshiping the Lord in his temple on Mount Zion.
For many of us, we too grieve the loss of our physical gatherings as the weight of new restrictions take their toll on our physical, emotional and spiritual health. But we can learn from the psalmist, who finds an antidote to the frustrations and dread of being distant from a place of worship. The psalmist chooses to remember. ‘These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.’ (v.4)
The psalmist recalls the times when shouts of joy and praise in the house of God were common. Why don’t you spend a moment now, remember a time when you shouted for joy and praised God at St Patrick’s? Recalling memories leads the psalmist to have hope. This psalm, although laced with downcast emotions, is anchored by pillars of hope. The phrase ‘Put your hope in God’ keeps on appearing. These words are both important and helpful. For the psalmist and for anyone who is feeling discouraged by not being able to worship in their preferred place, putting your hope in God is the best thing to do.
This means having a greater hope, a hope that sees beyond the present circumstances. It is the kind of hope that comes from knowing Jesus as Lord. From knowing that ultimately, God is in control. Verse seven of this psalm, the closing words, help us to face up to our emotions, while challenging us to lift our eyes heavenward, putting our hope in God.
‘Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.’ (v.7)