Forest Lake Talks

11/21/22 Devotional from Ed

November 21, 2022

Text: Psalm 42

As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”

These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng[a]
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
at the thunder of your torrents;
all your waves and your billows
have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully
because the enemy oppresses me?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my body,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

Devotional:

We just published this year's FLPC Guide to Lighting the Advent Wreath at Home, and if you try to read ahead, you'll notice we suggest reading Psalm 42 when you light the second candle.

The words in Psalm 42 are full of emotion, so because we're about to enter the holiday season, a season full of emotion, now is a good time to lift up a few things from this particular psalm.

Many in our church family will feel differently on Thursday. Some will look across the table on Thursday and see an empty chair. Perhaps someone is no longer with us. Perhaps a family member or friend could not make the trip to be with you. Perhaps there's been another loss (job, relationship, pet) that is painful. As a mentor of mine says, "Pain is pain and loss is loss."

Please don't try to compare or quantify any loss because all losses are painful. And when you read this particular psalm, do any of these words from the psalmist sound like some (or all) of your thoughts this season?

Like many psalms (Psalm 13 comes to mind), this psalmist cries out to God in despair and anguish. It's real, genuine, transparent, and hard to read at times. What happened exactly? Why is this psalmist in the pit and feel alone?

There's good news, however. Like many psalms, including Psalm 13, there is something to take with us at the end of the psalm. Notice the psalmist's faith in verse 11 above: "Hope in God, for I shall again praise..." And then notice the "my" in front of "God."

The psalmist refers back to a personal relationship with God, a personal relationship that seems to be the only thing helping at this point. We can go to God in prayer as much as we want, and Scripture consistently reminds us that God hears our prayers. An honest, emotional prayer, which is simply a conversation with  God, is a powerful reminder that we are not alone.

If the upcoming holidays remind of you of a presence that is no longer with us, please take some time to read selected psalms. The FLPC staff is glad to make recommendations on particular psalms to read as you work through the reality of a hard holiday season. The overall goal is to remember that God is ever-present with us, despite empty chairs, loss, and despair. Thanks be to God.

Prayer (Based on Psalm 46:1): Holy God, help me remember you are our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Amen.

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