Psalm 42

as a deer longs for streams of water
so I long for You, God
I thirst for God, the living God.
psalms 42:1

I love this verse so much because it reminds me of the simplest necessity in life, the core value in our lives – all we need is God. all we need is our Savior, Jesus Christ. just as a deer needs water, the basis of its energy, the main source of its sustainability, we need the living, ever-present God in our lives.
in times of pain, sorrow, depression, sin, whatever it may be, whatever is ruling our lives, whatever is on the throne dictating us, whether we admit it or not all we need is the King of Kings.

I think we could all use some more of God’s word. so if you would stick with me as I study Psalms 42. WARNING it’s gonna be a long devotional, so I’ll break it up into lil pieces & if you want to, just read a lil slice a day.

if someone were to ask me, “yo dee, what is your favorite book from the Bible?” I would have the hardest time deciding. but I feel Psalms 42 is a good go-to for me. the revised standard version titles it, “Longing for God and His Help in Distress”

if you want an action movie, go to Mark. if you want a documentary, go to Matthew. if you want some wisdom, go to Proverbs. (ps there’s 31 of them so you can read one chapter a day for a whole month and boom.) if you want a romantic story, go to my dude John. Robert Madu said, “if you like movie Dear John, read John.” Can I get an amen from all the ladies in the house? Psalms is a book of praise, a book of underlying depression, with cries out to God, cries of both sorrow and joy. I think that’s why I love it so much.

I am a hot mess. my life is an emotional rollercoaster. a Psalm a day keeps me sane. when I don’t know what to read, I turn to Psalm 42.

Psalm 42 is some good soul food. let’s eat.

part one 

HCSB (verses 1-5)
As a deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for You, God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while all day long people say to me,
“Where is your God?”
I remember this as I pour out my heart:
how I walked with many,
leading the festive procession to the house of God,
with joyful and thankful shouts.
Why am I so depressed?
Why this turmoil within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will still praise Him,

my Savior and my God.

MESSAGE (verses 1-5)
These are the things I go over and over, emptying out the pockets of my life. I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd, right out in front, Leading them all, eager to arrive and worship, shouting praises, singing thanksgiving celebrating, all of us, God’s feast! Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.

this hits home to feeling apart from God. you know that season of your life where you just feel so distant from Him and His love? in our souls we ache for more of Him, especially having tasted his goodness. it’s like that triple fudge macadamia nut-rich chocolate brownie your friend made. you tasted it once and my oh my it was heavenly, but it’s been a while since you’ve had that brownie and you miss its goodness. you didn’t want to eat 50 of them at the time because well that would mean you would need to hit the gym. but let me remind you, God’s presence, grace, love, and freedom are a never-ending kitchen of baked goods. that oven is overflowing.

I think the message version clears up the individual spirit part of it. you used to be on fire for God, leading others, eager for more of God, and that fire faded out. you once were so happy and now you’re just down in the dumps. verse 5 gives us a huge plot twist. “Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.” oh Dave, & we thought women were emotional rollercoasters. this dude goes from crying out to God saying “why God?!” “why is this happening?!” “why am I so depressed?!” to praising him. not the next day, not the next week. the very next moment. ???

God’s presence is like a fast-acting relief medication. 

not “within the half hour meds” not “overnight meds” not “within the next year meds” no. you see David cried to God and brought him into his situation. he didn’t leave God out. He said you know what even though this crap is happening to me, i will put my hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God. he said I will fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising him again. A smile is put on his face as he is reminded of Who he is and Whose he is.

sometimes we need nothing to realize we have everything.

he doesn’t recognize God as simply God, but his Savior. a Savior who will pull him out of the pit of his despair. he goes on to ask & doubt God, and question his goodness. something we have all done. something that is human. we ask God why have you forgotten about us? we can’t ever understand the way He works, but we must trust he is still good. & that’s hard.

Just as you don’t know the path of the wind,
or how bones develop in the womb of a pregnant woman,
so you don’t know the work of God who makes everything.
(Ecclesiastes 11:5)

what stuck out to me the first time I read this was the word “still.” after all the hurt David cries out to God, he stays faithful and says this.

Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.

that’s how we stay strong. we cry to God we can get angry at Him, but when we recognize and trust that God is STILL good, we should return the favor and say though I am lost, though I am hurt I will STILL praise You.

if after every verse we put in the words “still I … ” it really changes our perspective. “how I walked with many” – still I found you “my tears have been my food day and night” – still, I have something to be joyful about

“I STILL long for you God”

just as he has not forsaken you, so you should not forsake God. don’t forsake his promise. don’t forget about Him. he has not forgotten about you. he hears your cry. he meets you where you are, in the mist of your questions and in the midst of all your pain he will come and meet you half way.

prayer –  God, send your Light, your Truth and let them lead me on. I ache for you, you complete me Lord. I’m on my own but never alone. though I feel lost I found a home. thank you for hearing my hurt. you see through me, you know my heart. though I have these questions, these doubts, these fears, i know that you are there, you have not forsaken me. so I am still here, reaching out to you, I will still call on your name. here I am God, take all of me. take all of this. keep me where you are. come and invade.

part 2 

HCSB (6-8)
I am deeply depressed; therefore I remember You
from the land of Jordan and the peaks of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls;
all Your breakers and Your billows have swept over me.
The Lord will send His faithful love by day;
His song will be with me in the night–

a prayer to the God of my life.

MESSAGE (6-8)
When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you, From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar. Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids.Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me. Then God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night! My life is God’s prayer.

this i call to mind.

I remember listening to a message by Caleb Stanley, from the Alternative. he talked about Jeremiah’s depression from Lamentations chapter 3. when I read this Psalm, I think of his message and our call to remember God’s promises.

“therefore i have hope because of God’s unfailing love.”

when you’re in the dumps, when you think you’ve reached the deepest part of the pit, YOU have to tell yourself this one thing: The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night.” you have one thing to call to mind in the midst of your despair, and that is God’s promise.

promise to give you a purpose
promise to give you a future
promise to give you love
promise to give you firm steps
promise to give you eternity
promise to give you a savior
promise to give you forgiveness
promise to give you strength
he promises to love you all day every day

it’s hard to remember those promises in the midst of the pain,

i get it.

Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls;
all Your breakers and Your billows have swept over me.

David here wishes he was talking about God’s grace and love crashing over him, but it’s something else that has swept over him. he has given the authority to something, perhaps someone, to drown him.

what are you drowning yourself in?
work? relationships? pain? sin? sorrow?

whatever you may be drowning in has little to do with your faith. faith is not being strong in the midst of your circumstances. faith is what you have despite your circumstances.

drown yourself in God’s love, in God’s grace. remember the promise. dive into his word, talk to the dude. he’s a good listener, and maybe you can stop to listen to what he wants to say.

when I’m laying down in bed trying to go to sleep, in the darkness of my room there’s this obnoxious light. yeah, when i’m all comfy in bed snuggled up in my fifty blankets, i face the window and there just so happens to be a street light outside that aligns perfectly with the cracks of my window. the curtain is too short, the blinds are too short, and frankly, i’m too comfy to move. so that light just shines ever so brightly in my face while I’m trying to sleep. you can’t turn it off, i mean it’s a creepy street light. i could pull the covers over my head and hide from it, but instead, I embrace it. i stare at that light until i fall asleep.

God’s promises to you are like that array of light, that burst of hope. now you could pull the covers over your head and hide from it, but you’re so comfortable in your pain and place in this world so you just stare at it for a while. it’s staring back at you. you could yell at it, ask it questions, whatever those crazy people do that talk to street lights. or you could take it, grab it, embrace it. believe in it. oh just for a little while, see what that light brings you.

prayer thank you for your promises. thank you for Your overflowing love, I know I need it. God help me to remember the promises you have set out for me. when i am doubtful, when i am in pain, God fix my ears to listen to the truth that you have to say to me. let me drown in nothing but your presence.

part 3

HCSB (9-11)
I will say to God, my rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why must I go about in sorrow because of the enemy’s oppression?”
My adversaries taunt me, as if crushing my bones,
while all day long they say to me,
“Where is your God?”
Why am I so depressed?
Why this turmoil within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will still praise Him,
my Savior and my God.

MESSAGE (9-11)
Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God, “Why did you let me down? Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by enemies?” They’re out for the kill, these tormentors with their obscenities, Taunting day after day, “Where is this God of yours?” Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?  Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God– soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.

Notice how even after the fifth verse David is still asking questions? heck yeah. life isn’t that easy. walking with Jesus does not promise you daisies and prais-ies. (yes, i said prais-ies. no it’s not a real world.) he’s still in pain, but he’s on the road to recovery.

Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God,  “Why did you let me down? Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by enemies?”But David doesn’t just give in to the taunts and terror, no he remembers the promise. God wants to give you joy, he doesn’t always take away your pain. that pain is gonna settle there until you kick it in the butt. it’ll come back two days later, but you have to fix your eyes on God and you will be praising him! you will have a smile on your face! see, happiness in circumstantial, but joy comes from the Lord. God is always

But David doesn’t just give in to the taunts and terror, no he remembers the promise. God wants to give you joy, he doesn’t always take away your pain. that pain is gonna settle there until you kick it in the butt. it’ll come back two days later, but you have to fix your eyes on God and you will be praising him! you will have a smile on your face! see, happiness in circumstantial, but joy comes from the Lord. God is always throwin joy your way, like pixie dust. ya’ll it’s in the air, go catch it.

David finishes with this: “He is my God.” 

He is your God. that’s how the story ends. it doesn’t end when your heart seizes to beat, or when you feel the world caving in, no, God is a good father and He loves you too much to end your story like that. HE IS YOUR GOD. HE KNOWS YOU. HE KNOWS WHAT’S GOING ON AND HE KNOWS THE DESIRES OF YOUR HEART. THE MAKER OF THE UNIVERSE. THE MOUNTAINS. THE SUNSET. THE LITTLE GRAINS OF SAND ON THE BEACH. THAT KINDA GOD LOVES ALL KINDS OF YOU.

the doubtful you. the sinful you. the hot mess you. the good looking you.
he loves it all. more than the sky he made, more than the little birds he cares ever so for, he loves you. and he is not finished loving you. so fix your eyes on that, my dudes.

prayeryou love me, despite my doubts. you made this earth and you gave me authority over it. you gave me this life and i will let You have authority over it. bring me joy Jesus. You are mine and I am yours. I long for you each day and help me seek Your Presence in every minute. when i am upset and hurting God help me remember who You are. 

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