Psalms for Despair

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.

“Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; in you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

“My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.

“But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.  

“For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

“For dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations." Psalm 22:1-5, 14b, 19-21, 24, 28

Have you felt this same degree of despair? Have you felt like your heart was melted like wax – just a puddle of emotion, not functioning? This psalmist says he has cried out to God for help but still feels completely overwhelmed. Yet he also knew the Lord was not far off. He reminds himself of God’s history with His people. God has been a faithful help, not disappointing them but rescuing those who despair.

I love the last 2 verses: that the Lord does not “dis” the pain – He doesn’t hate it nor diminish it. The psalmist makes note that God has not looked away nor pretended that this is not happening.  He is comforted as he reminds himself that God is in charge. Are you comforted to know that the God who loves you and gave up His son for your redemption, is in control of your present circumstances?   

Next the writer trusts the Lord so comfortably that he freely and without restraint shares with the Lord all the things that burden him. The same frame of mind is expressed in Psalm 55:

“Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea: Hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught… My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”        Psalm 55:2,4.5,22 

Then in the New Testament too: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”   I Peter 5:6

Finally, below is Psalm 42. Are these words your words? In your pain, despair, depression and “overwhelmedness,” do you thirst for God? Or even for what He offers you – to deliver you, to give meaning to your loss, to make “good” come out of it? As you seek Him, He will do all those things and so much more. We pray the last 2 lines for you: when you are downcast, that you will remember the blessings He has already given you and the blessings He has given His people down through history. And that those memories will be a source of comfort to you now.  

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God  My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’

“Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. "My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.”    Psalm 42:2-3,5-6