Hoping in God in the Midst of Discouragement

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Why art thou disquieted within me?” These words have often come to me in moments of discouragement. I don’t remember ever committing them to memory, though I must have learned the verse in some early Sunday School class. My memory is set in the old King James Version of the Bible. The quotation, which is found in both the 42nd and 43rd chapters of Psalms, ends the question with this statement, “Hope in God, for I shall again praise God, my help and my God.” Discouragement may be a temporary condition, but when we are down, it is simply hard to remember better moments. We forget about the path God opened for us in an earlier day. We fail to remember that God has prepared a way for us on the other side of despair in previous eras of our lives.

Discouragement is a natural condition of the human spirit which is explored in several books of the Bible. The book of Job examines the question of suffering through the eyes of Job, who has lost everything – almost. His children, his homes, his cattle, his health and his place in society. Job is in such distress he asks God why he had been allowed to be born, if it was only to face the depth of suffering and heartache that was his. So vocal was he, in his complaints to God, that friends accused him of blasphemy. But God doesn’t. God understands his pain, his sorrow and his loss. God knows his broken and suffering spirit. God holds Job in hands of love and compassion. Eventually, Job discovers that God will not leave him in his suffering. He will never understand the why of pain, but he will learn that God is with him in the midst of it. There will come a day when joy fills his heart again.

So it is in our times of discouragement. You may be wondering if you will ever see light in the dark place you have landed in. You may be questioning today, the why of a difficult situation. You may be agonizing over a friend or family member. Know this . . . On the other side of despair lives joy. For now the words of the psalmist give wisdom. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise God. My help and my God.” Psalm 42:11

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