The Question is: Why am I so troubled? - 28 July 2022

By Louise Gevers

Little Audie’s exuberance at coming to see her Opapa on his birthday, and sing to him with great gusto, began to fade and she appeared tired. Her toys, and even treats, lost their appeal and she was soon sitting quietly, cuddled up in a blanket, contrary to what she’d so eagerly anticipated. When she asked if I had any “medicine for children” our suspicions were confirmed.

This simple scenario showing the negative impact of an illness on a child evokes the psalmist’s far more complex scenario in exile, which left him even more despondent and downcast in a serious situation that wouldn’t change soon. Unlike Audie at a birthday celebration, he’s exiled far away from Jerusalem and the temple where he loves to worship God; he’s longing to be able to worship God there again, back home in his own land, amongst his own people.

His longing for God is so deep that he likens it to the thirst of a “deer panting for streams of water” (Psalm 42:1); his soul cries out to spend time in God’s presence, away from the continual harassment of mocking men, taunting him about God’s absence in his time of need; gloating that he is there at all. He depends on God for life as the deer depends on water; and he feels cut-off.

Memories of “leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng” (Psalm 42:4) bring him more anguish and heighten his sense of separation from his people.

But then he chides himself and makes a declaration of faith above the cloud of depression: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.” (Psalm 42:5-6)

When he tries to understand why he is where he is, despair returns, but again he remembers who he trusts: “I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning oppressed by the enemy?’” (Psalm 42:9) Again he reproaches himself: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.”(Psalm 42:11)

Can we identify with the psalmist’s experience? We are also in exile, far from our heavenly home, while we live on earth. We are also subjected to the constant attack of our “enemy the devil [who] prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) He taunts us with, “Where is your God?” – his utmost, subtlest lie to us – endeavouring to rob us of our joy wherever he can. He has been especially active throughout this Covid period and the world feels the effect.

But in turning to God our Rock we have so much hope; in longing for Him, regardless of how we’re feeling, He always helps us through.

Prayer: Father, our hope is in You and in your unfailing love in all the seasons of our life on earth. Help us to withstand the attacks of the enemy by the power of Jesus’ Name. Amen