If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why Are You in Despair, O My Soul?

Why are you in despair, O my soul? (Psalm 42:5)

So what do you do when you’ve prayed for thirty years about a desperate need with eternal consequences, and your prayers seem to get no further than the ceiling?

Me? I struggle with depression over it. And finding lost car keys after a quick prayer just doesn’t help overcome the confusion, the frustration and other emotions I am not always able to articulate when God seems so silent about something of such eternal worth as that for which I have prayed for so long.

It was in that frame of mind that I recently began my morning with the Lord. I opened the Scriptures to the place I’d left off the day before and began reading Psalm 42: As the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for you, O God.

My eyes glazed over. I’ve read that verse a hundred times or more, and this was just one more time on my way to completing my reading routine. I pushed through the next few of verses, forcing my mind to stay focused. And then I read verse five: Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?

Suddenly, now I’m focused. I reread the verse, as if I could hear the divine Author of the psalm whispering in my ear, Why are you despairing?

I read the next part of the text: “Hope in God.”

The Holy Spirit had captured my attention, and I went back to verse one. Then verse three beckoned: “My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’”

Oh, where had I heard that before? So many times, I’ve lost count, my adversaries – Satan and his minions – have tossed their barbs at me, “What’s the use in prayer, or serving God? You keep praying, and He keeps ignoring you.”

I read further, sensing the Holy Spirit trying to speak with me. I got to verse ten. Again the psalmist laments, “As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, while they say to me all day long, where is your God?’”

Twice in this short song the adversary suggests suspicion toward God. It’s a play from the same playbook he used with Eve in the Garden. It’s an end run that has worked with all too frequent success for millennia. Why would Satan change his strategy now?

The psalm ends at verse eleven with the same challenge, the same encouragement, as at the beginning of the psalm: Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him . . . .”

Hope in God. The Hebrew can just as well be translated, Wait for God. Or, in other words, Stop listening to the Adversary. God has heard your thirty-years-long prayer. Trust Him.

Trust Him!

My depression did not suddenly dissipate when I closed the Bible that morning. Trusting God without seeing an iota of His work in the situation for which I pray is not easy for me. But my gloom seemed a little lighter. And I found a modicum of comfort when the Holy Spirit reassured me that my prayers do get higher than the ceiling. And that God is working all things for good.

Richard, wait for God.

You who read this, wait for God.


Anonymous said...

well-said, Rich. I appreciated theh reminder of how Satan works. We all are susceptible. Glad you wrote it out...kim c

Richard Maffeo said...

thank you, Kim.

Ron said...

You're so good about sharing feelings most of us prefer to keep to ourselves. Guess it's our pride. Good thoughts! Thanks for sending.

Richard Maffeo said...

you're welcome, Ron.