A Psalm for the Struggle
I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you (v.6).
It was the kind of eatery where you stand in line, place your order, and then step aside to wait for your food to appear. After I did just that, a young man took my place in front of the cash register. He ordered his food by using gestures and broken words. Paying was difficult for him, because one of his wrists was turned so that his fingers pointed back to his body. And walking to a table meant overcoming the uneven function of his legs. This young man struggled physically, yet courageously.
In a similar way, many of us struggle with internal impairments—grief, addiction, depression, and anxiety. Daily tasks can become nearly impossible when these problems result in exhaustion, restlessness, and preoccupation. The psalmist who penned Psalms 42:1 described his inner issues this way: “Day and night I have only tears for food” (v.3); “My heart is breaking” (v.4); “I am deeply discouraged” (v.6). As a result of these feelings, questions crept into his mind: “Why is my heart so sad?” (v.5); “Why must I wander around in grief?” (v.9).
Woven in with the psalmist’s despair was a sturdy cord of hope. He reached out to the One who could help, declaring, “I will praise Him again—my Savior and my God” (vv.5-6). During sleepless nights, he sang God-centered melodies, and prayed—as he put it—“to God who gives me life” (v.8). He knew that, despite his distress, God was sustaining him at that time—daily pouring affection on him (v.8).
Actively remembering God (v.6) inspired the psalmist to put one foot in front of the other. His practices helped him persevere despite intense emotions and unanswered questions. If you’re struggling today, reach out to the living God and remember that “those who trust in the Lord will find new strength” (Isaiah 40:31).
—Jennifer Benson Schuldt
What does the friendship of Jesus (John 15:15) mean for Christians who battle with emotional problems? What kind of practices can complicate or alleviate a person’s inner struggles?