As you read today’s lament, notice the references to water with which the lament begins. God is remembered (vv 6-7) in an image of mighty water. Mt Hermon is also a reference to water since it’s where the river Jordan begins and thunders down the mountain. Also notice some of the other repetitions in the prayer-poem.
Prepare to Listen. Light a candle as a symbol of hope, the light that is to come. Be still and know God is present and listening.
Prayerfully Read Psalm 42
1 As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?’
4 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.
5 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 6and my God.
My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts;
all your waves and your billows have gone over me.
8 By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God, my rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?’
10 As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?’
11 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.
The psalmist is depressed; so depressed that his tears have been his food day and night. It doesn’t help that people mock him, asking continually, ‘Where is your God?’ Because he’s asking himself the same question. Sadly, some people still give a depressed person a hard time, suggesting their depression is a result of a lack of trust in God. Someone once told me that a depressed Christian was a contradiction in terms, as though Christians (including the psalmist, I presume) should always be happy. Well, we’re not! And the psalmist gives us words and images for our depression, sadness, impatience as covid-19 continues to take its enormous toll and lockdown palls on our lives and souls.
Maybe today’s global situation hasn’t made you depressed, but I’m sure there are things about it that are bugging you and making you feel a little ‘cast down.’ Ask yourself, ‘Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?’ What causes you to be sad or impatient about covid-19? Your list will be different to mine.
Make you own list of the things that make you ‘cast down’ or simply annoy you. When your list’s complete, say to yourself what the psalmist says to herself, twice: ‘Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.’ Let this be your prayerful reflection today.
Respond to Jesus
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. You are my help and my God, give me strength to stand in hope despite how I feel as this crisis drags on. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.