Pursuing God When Life Hurts – Psalm 42:1-11
Corrie ten Boom wrote, “You never know God is all you need until God is all you have.”
Ken talked about resistance, swimming eight minutes is tougher than running a half day. When the resistance is hard, God doesn’t quit. My soul pants for you, oh God. This Psalm is what it looks like when we pursue God through our hurt. Psalm 42 and 43 are together, one flowing prayer, and an obvious cry for help.
Three movements declare one conclusion, “Yet God, I will praise you.” No matter what, I will praise you. What to do when life is hard and disappointing. We don’t grow cold, we press on. It’s easy to be pleased with God when all is going right.
Movement One (Psalm 42:1-5) we see lament and then praise.
When Life Hurts (Psalm 42:1-3) the psalmist faced emptiness, helplessness, and hopelessness. We often run past these words to the happier verses. What was happening?
Emptiness, the deer longs for streams of water, things are just not right, the fellowship is missing, I am empty and thirsty, God is the LIVING God for my living soul, when can I come before you? I miss communion with God. I thirst for the living God.
Helplessness, tears have been my food all day long night and day, he is not able to help himself.
Hopelessness, our culture has the plague of melancholy and see a dark future, truly feeling despair. Where is your God? Antagonistic friends. At times people see no way out. There is no hope.
The Pursuit (Psalm 42:4-5)
The Response: a soul issue. When life hurts, the souls of mankind cringes, the soul needs nourishment, the soul is expected to NOT to be bothered by external circumstance.
The pain (cut off) remembers the past festivals and pilgrimages and sees the separation.
The principle (God is not limited, He is my present help) Soul, what are you doing? God is not bound by walls. Why is my soul so depressed? Wake up soul, God is here.
The pursuit (I will praise Him as if I were with Him in His temple) I will worship anyway, God is greater than my troubles.
Movement Two (Psalm 42:6-11)
When Life Hurts (Psalm 42:6-10) the psalmist felt mistreated, overwhelmed, and forsaken. At verse five, it seems that the issues are resolved, but then we get to verse six. What caused this turn or shift?
Mistreated, geography and topography. I’ll remember you from the surrounding areas, not the temple. But I am way out here, when I want to be there, near you. I’m on this nothing hill, it is definitely not the mountain of Zion. This is unfair.
Overwhelmed, waters and breakers swept over him, a torrent over him. Life is overwhelming, pounding me, my family, my job, all overwhelming.
Forsaken, intellectually and emotionally. God, you are my rock, so why have you left me? Right theology gives way to emotions.
The Pursuit (Psalm 42:11)
The Response: a soul issue. The sound cringes, thirsts… the soul needs nourishment, done wonderfully in community.
The pain (bent low) internally overwhelmed, in pain. Put down and not settled inside.
The principle (I can trust God’s nature) I will hope in God, my Savior, he is the Savior of my countenance. He is a life saver, it is his nature. Saving is what he does. God’s nature affects my nature and countenance. Why is my soul so down? There is no reason for it, God is greater than my situation.
The pursuit (I look for the one who will deliver). I will still praise him, meaning I will diligently look for my deliverer. God’s timing will perfectly deliver you. I’m waiting for your response, that which you will do. Kids wait at the door for the parent to come pick them up, to deliver them from the school. We need to praise God in the trenches. I will anxiously await to see how he will deliver me. Waiting is not passion, but we actively await his deliverance. Serving over sitting.
Life Group Questions
- What do you enjoy most about going to church?
- What are some of the sacrifices you make in order to be with other believers?
- Why is it easy to get into the habit of neglecting our gathering at church?
- What are the benefits of worshiping with other Christians (over worshiping by yourself or at home)?
- Describe a time when you felt deserted by God or friends?
- Corrie ten Boom famously said, “You never know God is all you need until God is all you have.” When was a time where this was true for you?
- When was a time that you questioned God?
- Casting Crowns had a hit song a few years ago called, “I will Praise You in this Storm.” How does Psalm 42 have the same spirit or attitude?
- What is the right attitude to have when venting your doubts and frustrations to the Lord in prayer?
- How can we guard against a rebellious spirit?
- How can we follow the psalm writer’s example in dealing with our doubts and depression?
- What advice does this psalm give to us about dealing with negative feelings?
- Where do you usually turn for comfort?
- How can you respond to those who are hurting?
- In what ways do we focus on the hurting body while neglecting the soul?
- What does this psalm teach us about prayer?
- What are some of the distractions of life that prevent us from hearing God’s voice?
- How do you think you could improve your prayer habits?
- What does it look like to live as if God were unlimited?
- We all feel empty, helpless, and hopeless at times.
- How can we draw on God’s strength to help us in times of need?
- Paul saw his weaknesses as a time to rely upon God’s strength. Why are people afraid to show or even admit their weaknesses?
- What are the benefits of remembering the past? What has God done for you in the past, and how do those memories encourage you in the present and future?
- Ken mentioned our culture living in an age of melancholy. What reasons support this observation? Are times getting better or worse? Why?
- When was the last time you felt mistreated, overwhelmed, or forsaken?
- What are some solutions to overcome your feelings?
- How will this knowledge change the way you respond to others?
- Have you found it easier to pursue God in good times or in tough times?
- Name some ways that you can better and more effectively pursue God.
- What steps could you take the next time you feel doubt or disappointment in God?
- How can you remind yourself to turn to the Lord with your problems instead of allowing them to anger or frustrate you?