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 and my God.
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.
Some people are quite given to optimism and joy, even in the worst of times. Others find that they tend toward despondency and despair when times get tough. I, as a Christian, far too often find myself in the latter category. I have studied the Bible for some time now, I have a few degrees from Christian institutions, so you would think that my theology would do a better job of making it’s way into my everyday living. Unfortunately this is not always the case, but I pray it will become so increasingly in my life.
The two passages above point to the hope we have in God, and we could name off many more. I find it interesting that if you read Psalm 42 and 43 you will come across our first verse three separate times. It feels like the psalmist is trying to remind us, as well as himself, of something crucial to living godly life. It was Martyn Lloyd-Jones who famously said, “Don’t listen to yourself, preach to yourself,” and oh how we need to heed this counsel. Obviously if we read the news and look at the world there is ample reason to abandon hope for despair, apathy, unease, and a host of other negative emotions. We can look at our own lives and see problems, whether big or small and gravitate toward frustration and passivity. However, we should always be reminded of one solid absolute truth: God is on His throne. As such, we are called to constantly “preach” to ourselves to hope in God, regardless of circumstances.
The second passage is a prayer uttered by the apostle Paul for the church in Ephesus. In the bold we see a specific request from Paul that the people there would know the hope to which God has called them. In other words, God has not called us to Christianity to then abandon us and offer us no reprieve. Jesus reminded us that in this world we would have troubles, and Paul makes similar statements, but hope is present nonetheless. This is so because, first we have a future with the Creator God, in whose presence there is joy forever (Psalm 16:11). We also have hope in Jesus’ proclamation that the gates of hell will never prevail against the church (Matt 16:18). With these two truths in our minds and hearts we can go forward knowing that a future awaits us, and in the meantime God’s kingdom will advance in this world until peoples from every tribe, tongue, nation, and language glorify His name, and there is nothing that Satan can do to stop it.
Some may be thinking this is great rhetoric on a grand, macro level, but I live in the nitty gritty of everyday life. How does this translate to my life and present situation? This is a question I ask often and, I hope, am becoming more enlightened on as time goes by and sanctification takes a greater hold of me. Great theological truths such as the ones mentioned above are true both corporately and individually. Cynicism and doubt can kill their reality in our own lives, and thus it requires great faith in our God to trust in His good promises. Pray continually. Meditate on His Word day and night. We will all face difficulty and suffering in this life due to the presence of sin and the fallenness of this world, but God is for us, and nothing will separate us from Him (Rom 8:31-39). So I encourage all of us to take hold of these great truths, hide them in our hearts, and place our hope in the great God of the universe, who loves us and gave His Son for us.