“Love Rages Louder.” I wish that would be the headline, for once. Something hopeful to look at first thing in the morning. Coffee and celebration!
The news about Russia and Ukraine has been horrifying. Why doesn’t God just squash the proud little ants who started this whole thing? It helps to hear stories of the helpers – people housing refugees and ferrying families to the border as they tell them about Jesus.
National news. Local news. Church news. Families saying goodbye. Personal troubles that pile up higher and higher without regard for our feelings.
Why am I discouraged? Why so sad? (Psalm 42:5) Why?! Look around you!
Psalm 42 always bothered me. That phrase in verse 7: …your waves and surging tides sweep over me. YOUR waves. God’s? Is God sending catastrophe? Can He even be trusted? Is He punishing me/us/them for not being who we’re meant to be? “Take THAT! And THAT!”
Not to mention… Where is Mt. Hermon (vs 6)? Why can’t these writers stop dropping random geography references and just write something we can all understand? I finally looked up the backstory: The writer was in exile. His morning news was horrifying every day because he was a living joke to the people around him. He was stranded in the north, far away from the city where he used to lead worship. No celebrations on Mt. Hermon. No answer from God, as far as the surrounding nations could see. No wonder the author wrote:
Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you –
Even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan…
I used to skip over the geography references and look for emotional words to cling to. But one day, it jumped out at me: THE SOURCE OF THE JORDAN. Maybe the Psalmist sat in the mountain rain which ran down in streams and fed the Jordan River. Maybe he thought about how rain feeds streams, lakes, seas, and oceans.
Maybe he wrote the words of Psalm 42 as he sat next to Israel’s largest waterfall, Benias, at Mount Hermon, where he was exiled. Maybe he saw a leaf fall into the water at the top. Watched it plunge over the edge. Heard the pounding waterfall press it down into the depths against its will. There I go. I am swept under, he thinks. My troubles will crush me. God’s plan is to crush me. Suddenly, the leaf reappears downstream. Pop! It hops to the surface and rides away on the current of the Jordan, seeking a peaceful sea.
Maybe it hit him: God isn’t crushing me. Life does that on its own. The Lord rains love! He wrote: Through each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me… (vs8)
Downstream, the Jordan will flow into the Sea of Galilee. Under the hot sun, it will begin to evaporate and return to the clouds. And through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life. (vs8)
A song, a prayer, rises to heaven like evaporating water. The love He constantly pours out returns to Him in our prayers, even the agonized ones we pray in doubt. I am beginning to see my prayers and songs differently. Sometimes troubles are too heavy and words are weak or absent. But a song can be a prayer, even just felt from your heart. Even an old hymn that I once grew bored of singing will be just what I need. Singing a little something in the face of the enemy says “God is not absent. He hasn’t abandoned me. His love is pouring over me.” I’m still alive. And even if I am dying, I’m becoming more and more alive the closer I get to heaven.
Sometimes He feels absent. But Jesus came here. He gave Himself up to soldiers who tortured Him to death. Through our trials, even in exile, the risen King sits on His throne, and makes His home in us through His Spirit. He is the Living Water who pours the Father’s unfailing love into our hearts. Our prayers are like an offering of thanksgiving. A song can be an act of faith. Or war. His unfailing love is constantly mine. And yours. And theirs. He is with us.
Why am I discouraged? Why so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again – my Savior and my God!
Exile will end. But it is discouraging. It goes on too long. It makes us thirsty, longing for God. Perhaps that thirsting is one of His hidden blessings. We long for Him in a deeper way. “I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.” (v7) God does discipline us from time to time. But I am convinced that the raging sea written about in Psalm 42 is His love, not His judgment. Gnawing loneliness. The incessant arguing of parents or children. Bad news that blows your world to bits. Bombs that really do. Deeply hurtful words. The dripping of our own doubts and anxiety. God’s love rages louder than the battles. And it is hope in our dark times – to remember God’s kindness to us. May His unfailing love fill your mind today and find expression in a song.