Singing In The Dark: Hope From Psalm 42


IMG_7240 I watched her face drain white and her neck burn red. Disappointment slapped her face like salty waves in a deep cut; the sting spread deep. My eyes reached for her, but she stepped back dizzy with shock and closed her eyes slowly to hold back those stormy inner oceans.

She received an answer she didn’t want. The refusal settled thick in the air, and I struggled to breathe next to her. We had prayed for an answer, a breakthrough, a miracle.

Anything but this, God. Why this?

I too have felt such questions press against my own skin, perhaps you have as well. It might be a diagnosis. It might be a marriage ripping down the middle. It might be the unexpected piece of paper in the mail that completely derails your life plans. It might be a breakup that replays over and over in your dreams. It might be letting go of something or someone before you felt ready.

Right here in the mess of shattered expectations, unwanted answers, and the slippery doubt-land that makes us wonder if God does listen to our cries or care for us deeply, right here is a sticky place called “hopelessness.” It’s a dark shadow that stretches over our souls, and we feel sick over these doubts, but we can’t seem to outrun them.

This is where the psalmist finds himself today in Psalm 42:

3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

5 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.

“Where is your God?” they ask the psalmist. And sometimes our own soul whispers that question to the ceiling at night. But the psalmist doesn’t just shove the questions away. No, he stops. He listens. He remembers. And this is where the spark of hope happens -- when we remember God.

7 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your wave have gone over me.

8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

9 I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

10 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

11 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.

“Cast down” means to be brought low, to sink down. I’ve felt the gut-kick of unwanted answers, unraveled plans, disappointment, and pain that felt like a cancer spreading deeper and deeper into the fabric of my being. It’s like stepping into quicksand and sinking up to your throat.

But “deep calls to deep.” There is no pain too deep that God cannot reach it and heal it with His love. Corrie Ten Boom once said, “There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still.”

Hopelessness lives only when the love of God dies. As long as we trust that He loves us still, even in the pain, hope can take a deep breath and push truth through our veins again.

But what if we don’t “feel” hope? What if nothing has changed? What if our soul still feels stuck in the mud?

“For I shall again praise Him.” Praise is a doorway to hope. There are reasons to speak thankfulness.

Even when hope crashes to the ground, even when we feel like He left us behind, the truth is His love never stops, never ends, never refuses you. That is a reason to praise Him. No pain can snuff His unceasing love. No trial can silence His unceasing love. No tragedy can undermine His unceasing love. Repeat it with me, even in the darkness, “nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)

He never forgets about you, never reaches His limit with you, never replaces this mercy with indifference on any occasion. But how? Because His mercy renews every morning. It’s not that it expires at midnight like a magic pumpkin, but it is always waiting fresh for you the moment you open your eyes. These are reasons to hope in God.

As I sat quietly next to my friend as she rocked back and forth from disappointment, this is the truth that steadied me enough to reach out and grab her hand. Hope doesn’t always eliminate the questions or the shock, but hope always steadies the soul. It is the anchor in a stormy sea. It keeps us connected with the immovable.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts… (Romans 5:1-5, ESV)

There is grace where you stand.

And by grace, you and I can cling to hope and shout words of praise into the darkness.

IMG_4192 Kaysie Strickland is definitely nothing fancy. Jesus found her in a mess and won her with His Words. She feels called to be a servant of the Word and His people through spending her life and words proclaiming the reckless restoration available in the gospel. She is married to her best friend on earth, drinks lots of coffee + tea, constantly rearranges the furniture in her house (God bless her husband), loves gardening and DIY projects, enjoys long conversations over coffee, and loves all the words. You can find her on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Blog