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His Love Upholds Us
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His Love Upholds Us

Lessons from Psalm 42

By Katie Gutierrez

Has sorrow been your constant friend? 

Have tears become your daily bread? 

Do you hear voices in your head

Saying, “where is your God?” 

Inspired by Psalm 42, those words formed in my mind one evening as I sat on my couch wrapped in a blanket. Life had felt a little extra heavy lately, so I opened my Bible to Psalms and started reading. Warm light shone on the pages of my Bible adding natural highlights to the distress of the writer who penned Psalm 42. “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. My tears have been my food day and night. I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy.” (vv. 2-3, 9 NKJV) In his grief, this Psalmist longed for God but felt forgotten. The people around mocked him, asking “where is your God?” (vv. 9-10) 

Can you relate to any of that? The book of Psalms isn’t afraid to show us the raw emotions and struggles of its writers. Relatable themes of sorrow and questioning are wrestled with throughout the book. But the Psalmists travel through deep grief and agonizing questions by always returning to two truths: 1) God is merciful, loving, and just. 2) God is fully worthy of our trust and worship. 

Remember Who God is

O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You.” (Psalm. 42:6 NKJV)

When you doubt God’s goodness or love, remember who God is and what He has done.
Remember: 

  • God’s promises and how He has faithfully kept those promises for generations. 
  • Times in your past when God has shown you His lovingkindness in specific ways by providing, comforting, or revealing Himself to you. 
  • The most important work Jesus ever did for you at the cross. 

The cross is where you see the greatest proof of God’s love. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NKJV) 

The cross proves that God’s love is not dependent upon your actions, circumstances, or ever-shifting feelings. It was given while you were a sinner. You did nothing to earn God’s love and there is nothing you can do to make God stop loving and pursuing you.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 38-39 NKJV)

 When doubts of God’s love threaten, remember that Jesus became a man, was rejected by men, and forsaken by God the Father on the cross in order to take your sin and make you righteous. Nothing can separate you from this kind of sacrificial love.

Tell Your Soul to Hope in God

What happens when you know these truths in your mind but your heart is still heavy and struggling to believe God loves you? The writer of Psalm 42 preached to himself. It might sound a little crazy, but there’s a lot we can learn here. 

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalm 42:11 NKJV)

The Hebrew word we translate as “hope” in this Psalm means to wait with eager expectation, trusting that you will not be disappointed. You could also translate it: “Put your faith in God.Sometimes, we need to preach the truth to our souls when we feel hopeless. I like to think of this as clinging to Jesus and crying out to God, telling Him you need Him and you will not settle for anything less than Jesus. 

Another way the Psalmist actively hoped in God was by praising Him. Praising God is a powerful way to move the truth you know mentally into your heart so that it impacts your emotions. Praise can help your emotions to come in line with the truth. 

You can follow this example. Choose to hope in God alone, believing that the day will come when you fully feel the lovingkindness of the Lord (even if that day isn’t until heaven). In the meantime, worship Jesus for the cross where His love was demonstrated. 

The Lovingkindness of God

The lovingkindness of God doesn’t always feel like the “warm, fuzzy, everything is working out well” kind of love. It’s the cross kind of love. The kind of love that was willing to die for you, taking your debt of sin and making you a child of God. It’s the kind of love that has promised He will never leave or forsake you even when you don’t feel Him near. It’s the kind of love that has promised, that ultimately evil won’t win, pain won’t last forever, and all things are working for you a far more eternal and exceeding weight of glory. 

That’s the kind of love we can hope in and sing about even when our soul is cast down and weary. 

See the cross where love and grace

All at once your sins erased

Tell your soul to sing His praise

And put your hope in God. 

 

Katie loves an urban cafe as much as the smell of campfire and pine. She works in communications while studying business and non-fiction writing, and is most happy when leading worship and discipling others. Katie lives with her husband in Alberta, Canada.

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