Where is Your Hope?

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Introduction

500 years ago, Martin Luther stood before a group of Catholics at the Diet of Worms who were accusing him of heresy for his opposition of the Roman Catholic Church. The trial of sorts was significant as the Protestant Reformation was in full swing and the Catholics desired to see Luther recant his views. They wanted him to say that his 95 theses were wrong and that he repented of doing any wrong. Luther, when the stakes were the highest, said, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.”
Luther was convicted that He was to remain faithful to God’s Word, even if it meant He would face stiff opposition. Even if it meant He would lose His life! If you track our history as Protestants, we owe so much to brave men like Luther who defied tyrants (as we’ll look at in the book of Acts in coming weeks) and remained true to what the Bible teaches.
These individuals longed for the Lord and desired to serve Him faithfully. Even in tough times, they didn’t water down their message or conform to the world as Romans 12:1-2 warn us about, instead they doubled down and placed their hope in the Lord - not in other people or what the world says was right.
Whenever we find ourselves in difficult times, where do we often go for help? Whenever people pick on us, where do we find strength? Whenever we feel depressed, where do we turn? While there are many different answers to these questions, as followers of Christ, we know that our hope is in God and we know that we belong to Him regardless of what comes our way! As a result of this assurance, we know that we are called to praise Him.
What about when the stakes are high? What about when the lights shine bright? What will we do when the spotlight is on us? In these moments when many people are tempted to play the “get out of jail free card” from Monopoly and say the thing that won’t get us in trouble, what will we do? Will we remain faithful like Luther or will we go the way of our world and sacrifice faithfulness for convenience?
This evening we’re going to take some time to study out of Psalm 42 and evaluate where our hope is placed and how that should shape our actions!
Psalm 42 CSB
For the choir director. A Maskil of the sons of Korah. 1 As a deer longs for flowing streams, so I long for you, God. 2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while all day long people say to me, “Where is your God?” 4 I remember this as I pour out my heart: how I walked with many, leading the festive procession to the house of God, with joyful and thankful shouts. 5 Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God. 6 I am deeply depressed; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your billows have swept over me. 8 The Lord will send his faithful love by day; his song will be with me in the night— a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I will say to God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about in sorrow because of the enemy’s oppression?” 10 My adversaries taunt me, as if crushing my bones, while all day long they say to me, “Where is your God?” 11 Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God.

Hope in times of Despair (1-5)

Many of us are familiar with Psalm 42:1 and this verse serves as an ever present reminder of our need to seek the Lord and long for Him just as the deer pants for water. Whenever we think of a hot summer afternoon in Missouri where the humidity is cranked up and you’re drenched with sweat the moment you walk outside, understandably the deer would pant for water and seek it above just about anything else. Do people in our world long for God with the same intensity? Honestly, do you long for God with this same intensity? Speaking openly, there are times where I genuinely think that we do this but there are other times where other things are more important in our lives. We prioritize other things or things simply come up and get in the way.
It is said that a human can go roughly 40 days without food and roughly 3 days without water. By this logic, water is more important than food. As Christians who understand that God has power over all things, we know that we can’t go a moment without Him. We know that we are powerless without Him and that life would be meaningless without Him! As a result, we should long for Him as the Psalmist describes here in our text.
Sometimes whenever we long after the Lord, though, things don’t exactly go the way we expect. We thirst for Him and we cry out to Him constantly day and night and there are moments where He doesn’t answer the way we want and people, as the Psalmist shares, say “Where is your God?”
This is a commonly asked question to many Christians by non-Christians: Where was God when … happened? If God is real, He wouldn’t have allowed this to happen! There are situations that people have walked through that we simply don’t have an answer for and we have to be silent and live out Romans 12:15
Romans 12:15 CSB
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.
What about when you are the one in despair? When it feel as though God is a million miles away and not answering your urgent cry for help! What do you do then? The Psalmist, in verses 4-5 gives us a helpful reminder of what to do. Even though there are taunts from the enemy, we reflect on God’s faithfulness in the past. The Psalmist thinks of the festivals in the past where the Jews would celebrate all that God had done and delivered them from. In remembering God’s faithfulness, even in the midst of despair and rejection, the Psalmist is able to remember times of joy and thankfulness.
Verse 5 is repeated several times in Psalm 42-43 and serves as a great verse for us to ask ourselves today.
Why do we get so dejected? Why do we doubt? Why do we despair? Because it’s easy to take our eyes off the prize and not put our hope in the Lord. The Psalmist shares to put our hope in God and praise Him - why? Why praise God in the midst of despair? Why praise Him whenever we’re thirsting for Him and He isn’t answering? Why praise Him whenever people taunt us? Because He is our Savior! He has always been faithful and He will always be faithful!
The Psalmist says, “You are my God.” Whatever comes our way, we can and should have hope because we know that we are in Christ and that there is freedom in being found there - even in moments of despair.

Hope in times of Doubt (6-11)

As is typically found in Lament Psalms, there are multiple problems/laments and multiple passages of hope/rejoicing. In Psalm 42 we read of the hope expressed in verse 5 and then in verse 6 we see that the Psalmist is deeply depressed! In reading this, it can be easy to draw a conclusion that says that the Psalmist needs to make up his mind because he’s just a little bit confused! However, in thinking about our experiences and walk with the Lord, we begin to realize that this is common for many followers of Christ.
We read our Bible. We see time and time again of God’s faithfulness and greatness. We experience His power in our life. We worship alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ. And then, we find ourselves depressed. We find ourselves surrounded by others who do not believe. We find ourselves in a position where we feel abandoned and forgotten. Just as this was the case routinely with the Israelites, we can relate to this as well.
In context to Psalm 42-43, the author is noted as the sons of Korah. Who are these people? We know that they are musicians who served in the temple and they are descendants of Levi
1 Chronicles 6:22 CSB
22 Kohath’s sons: his son Amminadab, his son Korah, his son Assir,
The author is likely a contemporary of David who is experiencing alienation and persecution. Perhaps while Saul was persecuting David or whenever David’s son Absalom revolted. Either way, things aren’t going great and, as a result, the Psalmist is depressed. He remembers the promised land but, in doing so, he feels as though he has been overtaken by the deep waters. In verse 1 we see the Psalmist use water in a positive way and here the water is sweeping over Him - almost reminiscent to what Jonah says
Jonah 2:3 CSB
3 When you threw me into the depths, into the heart of the seas, and the current overcame me. All your breakers and your billows swept over me.
Everything is gone and he feels as though things are going to end poorly and that doubt is going to win as the waters sweep him away. Yet, verse 8 provides some hope. The Lord will send his love and the Psalmist knows that the Lord will be with him day and night - He knows that God is always present!
In times of depression and persecution, what should give us hope? The reality that God is with us.
Psalm 34:18 CSB
18 The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.
This give us hope, and I pray that you’ve experienced this in your deepest and darkest moments!
Even though the Psalmist knows that the Lord is with Him, he still has doubt in the midst of God’s silence. He asks several questions to God in verses 9-10. Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go through sorrow? My enemies taunt me and ask, “Where is your God?” Things aren’t going well and he mourns because God is silent.
There are lots of popular sayings about the still small voice passage from 1 Kings 19 with Elijah on the mountain and how God’s presence wasn’t in the mighty fire, storm, or earthquake, rather He was in the quiet afterwards. There are times, though, where God doesn’t answer our request immediately. There are times where He is silent - this doesn’t mean that He isn’t interested in us or that He isn’t listening to us, but there are times where we cry out to Him and it simply isn’t the right time. In such moments, in the silence, where is our hope? Our hope, again, is in God as verse 5 and 11 state.
We wait. In our doubt, in our depression, in our rejection, in our despair, we wait on the Lord. We place our hope in Him. Why do we place our hope in Him?
Because He has been faithful in the past
Because we belong to Him
Because of His promise to us
Friends, we live in a world of despair. A world where there things don’t always make sense. In this world of suffering and struggle, it can be easy to express this grief of sorts as the Psalmist does in our text because even as Christians we go through difficult moments and seasons of life. The good news for those of us who are in Christ, though, is that we know that there is something greater awaiting us. We know that Christ will return and restore all things to how they are supposed to be. Our God is faithful to His promises - even when it seems as though He is silent.

Conclusion

Here are some helpful questions to ask ourselves in difficult moments:
Are we longing after God?
Are we putting our hope in Him?
Are we praising Him?
Life is hard - after all, no one makes it out alive in the end! In the easy moments, maybe it’s easier to do the “church” things and talk about our hope and all of that jazz. But what about in the hard times? What about when we stand on our own? Are we still longing for Him like the deer longs for the water? Are we putting our hope in Him instead of other things or people? Are we praising Him or are we just going through the motions in hopes of getting something from Him?
Back in 2010, a massive earthquake struck Haiti and killed tens of thousands of people while wrecking havoc across the island nation. In the days and weeks that followed, the search for survivors was difficult due to debris and dangerous conditions. 11 days after the earthquake, Wismond Exantus was pulled from the rubble. After he was taken to a nearby hospital, he told people that the first thing he wanted to do was go to a church and give thanks. He said during those 11 days he spent time praying, remembering the Psalms, and sleeping. He said, “I wasn’t afraid because I knew people were searching and would come for me.”
Sometimes hope is all that we have. And we know that when our hope is in the Lord, we have all that we need!
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