Hope

Dear Reader,

“Hope now in God; I’ll praise Him still.

He is my help; He is my God.”

I don’t know which psalm this is, because I remember it from the psalter selection. But I remember it; isn’t that great?

I have been thinking about our hope in God this week. And how amazing it is that in the pits of despair the psalmist can say that he hopes in God. If you read through the psalms, there are quite a lot in which the psalmist is really in dire straights. Enemies surround. Friends and brothers betray. Even parents may reject one. But almost every time there is a note of hope and confidence in God.

And this is a really hard thing. It is hard to keep hoping in God when we, in our limited human wisdom, can’t imagine a way out. I don’t know how others operate, but for myself I find that when I pray I try to give God ways to resolve the problem. It is rarely just “God solve this problem.” It is usually “God, please help this and that to work out in such ans such a  way so that my problem is solved like this.”

But to still have faith that God is in charge, can do what we ask, and loves us enough to do what’s best for us (knowing that what He calls best is not always what we call best) even when we cannot conceive of any way the situation will work out–that is tough.

And even when God sends us help, I think we are too quick to place our faith in that help rather than in the Helper who sent it. I was feeling lately like Jonah, whining about the tree that God sent him for shade which then withered. I think the problem that Jonah and I had is that, although knowing that the help was sent by God, we immediately placed all our trust in the gift instead of the Giver. And when God took back the gift, we despaired because we couldn’t conceive of His help still being there but perhaps being expressed in a different way. Does that make any sense?

So what do you do when the pit is do deep that you can’t see any way out? I think we must do as the psalmist and talk to our souls (that is, our selves):

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you  in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation”                                                      [Ps. 42:4; ESV]

I don’t know if this is the psalm I was remembering, because as I look through the Psalter, I find this sentiment repeated not only later in Psalm 42, but also in Psalm 43.

Sometimes we just have to whip ourselves into shape and say, “These are the things you know to be true, self. Now start acting like it!”

So that’s the lesson I learned this week.

Nebby

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