Word for encouragement from Psalm chapter 42 (or how to cope in exile)
Keith Donnelly 13.05.2020
The other day I was reading some of the Psalms, in the Good News translation of The Bible, and as I read Psalm 42 I noticed that it was described as being 'The Prayer of a Man in Exile'.
And it seemed to me, that in many ways, it can feel that we are all in exile, at present, as we are separated from the places and people that we love and are a probably a long way away from being able to do the things that we used to enjoy doing.
Although its been great to chat to our church family on the phone and to exchange prayer needs and encouragement on line, I am sure that we are all still yearning for the time when we can once again meet face to face to enjoy fellowship and worship together at The Well.
In the Old Testament the Israelites who were taken into exile in Babylon felt the same way and the well known first verse of Psalm chapter 137 describes their feelings:
'By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept when we remember Zion'.
I guess its only when we are exiled from some aspects of our lives that we begin to appreciate how important they are to us.
It's all too easy to take things for granted and to pick on small faults and mistakes rather than thank God for the many blessings he has given us.
For most of us being able to meet together, as a church family, is an important element of our walk with God and its only normal for us to miss this and to sometimes feel a bit fed up.
Although many of us are trying to use some of the extra time at home reading the Bible and praying a bit more – this prolonged period of separation can get to us all at times – and as the weeks go by we can begin to wonder why God doesn't seem to have answered our prayers – at least in the ways we would have preferred him to!
But these are the very times when we need to trust God the most and to walk in the faith that Jesus gives us. As it says in Hebrews chapter 12 verse 2 'Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith' and trust him to bring us through the current crisis and to use these difficult times to achieve something good in the world.
So just before I end by reading Psalm 42 - remember that its only normal for us to miss meeting together, it's inevitable that we will sometimes get a bit down at times and that it's OK to cry out to God with our doubts and fears sometimes – our God is so much greater than our weaknesses and our fears – and he loves and cares for us.
It's so important for us to keep encouraging each other at times like this and sometimes we need to give ourselves a firm talking to, just like the guy who wrote Psalm chapter 42 – and keep on trusting and praising God in the midst of this crisis.
Read Psalm chapter 42 using your own bible or by clicking here.
May your thoughts turn to God, when they are troubled.
May God show you his constant love in the midst of your worries.
May God give you a new song in the night or when things seem particularly bad.
May you continue to put your trust in God and praise him despite your current exile.
And may we all look forward to the day when we can once again be a happy crowd – singing and shouting praise to God.
Stay well – Stay safe.