My tears dampened my Bible as I sat with some of our closest friends. Our study of Psalm 43 had slowed to silence as they gave me space to wrestle for words to communicate my pain.
Simply being in this section of Scripture is what began the stirring.
Psalms 42 and 43 are a two-part song written by a worship leader who’s struggling to worship. It paints a vivid picture of how suffering can dismantle you. It feels like you’re dying from thirst, longing for God to show up. You consume your tears as you weep. Joyful singing is a distant, fading memory. Statements of faith are overtaken by questions of doubt. Your heart’s divided, your soul is “cast down”.
It describes where I’ve been ever since learning of my son’s fatal diagnosis. It describes where I am as I grieve his death.
On this particular occasion, it was a detail in the song’s chorus that brought my agony over the surface.
“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.”
The writer doesn’t speak of praise as a present reality, but as a future expectation. He trusts it will happen again, but his overwhelming pain prevents him from being able to praise the Lord now.
In other words, it’s possible for biblical hope to be praiseless.
The Psalmist commands his soul to have hope but does not force himself to praise. Instead, he asks God to move: “Send out your light and your truth, let them lead me.” He knows that the Lord is the only one who can bring him through the darkness to a place of worship.
This surfaced my tears because he gives us no timeline. Even though I’ve felt the freedom through the Scriptures to grieve, I still feel the pressure from our happy-saturated society to ‘get on with it’. Here was another release from the Lord to just be sad. And it confirmed exactly how I feel: dreadfully incapable of praise, but desperately wanting to taste the joy of Christ again.
This is where you can be in your suffering: Hopeless, but trying to command your soul to hope; Praiseless, waiting for God to lead you to a place of joyful singing once more.