Why the Long Face?

  • Pete Johnson
Woman with her head down looking depressed

It seems that the world has been turned upside down and how quickly it has flipped. Everywhere one looks it appears that fear, turmoil, and anxiety is so thick you could cut it with a knife. A pandemic which includes financial insecurity, face masks that have become a new dividing line between people, conspiracy theories, political unrest, social and racial unrest, and protests demanding change through threats of violence and acts of hatred. It’s more than enough to drain the soul… and it does.

With everything that is going on it is easy to just shrink away. Life can quickly become hopeless, depression sinks in, and the joy of God seems to evaporate from us. “God, where are you?”, “Why is this happening?” “Please God, help me!” our hearts cry out. The heaviness of these events take the strength right out of us. We feel it in the pit of our stomachs, in the inner part of our being, distressed and deflated. Of course, we would perhaps not admit to those feelings, but if we are honest we have been there, and perhaps you are there now.

Psalm 42-43 describes this very thing. Psalm 42-43, most probably originally one Psalm, was written by the Sons of Korah. These men, during the time of David, were great leaders in choral and orchestral music in the tabernacle.

Whatever the situation was that caused this Psalm to be written, it resonates with heavy hearts even today.

“My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul:”

What does he remember in his time of distress? How things used to be…

“how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.” (Psalm 42:3-4)

Reading that, I can feel the gut-wrenching sorrow that pours from the pen of the Psalmist. Yet the focus of the Psalm is not the despair, even though it is heavy and crushes the soul, the focus is the hope that only God can provide.

Three times, 42:5, 11; 43:5, the Psalmist declares,

“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 things that we as Christians are experiencing and will experience are to be expected. With that being said, what then is the remedy for a suffering soul if the suffering from persecution is not optional? We must be like the Psalmist, we must not once, not twice, but multiple times remind ourselves and others that our hope and peace are in God, not in any thing on this earth.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)