From Distress to Deliverance
DAVID GOFF | MARCH 25, 2020
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
When we are in a season of distress in our life, we need to be careful our circumstances don’t unintentionally drive us away from God. When we move away from God, there are often warning signs: we stop seeking Him, we become anxious, and we lose hope. It brings us to a desperate place.
That’s why I’m thankful for Psalm 42:1-5. In this portion of the Psalm, we find a godly example of how to get to the other side of our distress. Some scholars believe this Psalm captures the desperate place that David was in when he was hiding from Saul in exile. Saul, with a distressing spirit upon him, had become fixated on killing David. There wasn’t a valid reason for Saul’s bloodthirsty anger yet he had David on the run for his life! David found himself in a season of great pain, suffering, and longing. Yet from his season of distress, we discover three powerful ways that we can move from Distress to Deliverance.
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” (1)
The psalmist describes his longing after God as a deer yearning for water. I imagine that as David was on the run, going from city to city, he yearned for his time with God at the end of each day. These moments were, no doubt, filled with zealous prayer! He desired God more than anything else in his soul. As the deer, he sought after the flowing streams; the living waters of God.
When we are overwhelmed with our circumstances, they often become barriers to drawing close to God. In the case of David, being exiled from Jerusalem left him physically unable to worship in the Lord’s Tabernacle. I imagine him gazing towards Jerusalem with a yearning to physically reunite with other worshipers. Yet, despite the physical distance, David still pursued an intimate spiritual closeness with the Lord; he thirsted for God.
“My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” (3)
When we are in the midst of distress, we must also be prepared to do battle against discouragement. We can be overwhelmed and discouraged when our list of problems is great and our future seems unclear. Yet, we see in David’s example that he never denies the reality of suffering. On the contrary, he cried both day and night in acknowledgment of the deep pain he was feeling. Yes, the pain was real. What else do we see David do? He took his complaints to God.
We also see in David’s example that he had to battle his own heart that questioned whether God was still there (Psalm 13)? In our own lives, as we longingly wait for change to come, we too may wonder where God is. Why is God allowing this to happen to me? But David didn’t stay there. David avoided discouragement by not only taking his complaints to God but also in remembering God’s faithfulness to him in the past.
“…Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation” (5)
As the Psalmist looks back to the days when he was close with God - his soul is overwhelmed. Although unable to worship and feast with the multitude in Jerusalem, he can look back at God’s earlier blessings for strength.
David not only looks back, but we also see him look forward with Great Hope in God. At that time, he had no idea that God had great plans for his life that would include a major covenant promise.
That Davidic Covenant would promise that from David’s seed the Kingdom of God would be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16). This promise was an Old Testament reference to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who would one day reign on the throne. Yet, at that moment, David had all the hope he needed in personally knowing that God was his salvation. What a source of Hope! His salvation gave him hope that one day he would again praise the Lord’s name with great Joy!
As we walk through seasons of distress in our life, we must not allow our circumstances to drive us away from God. It will only produce anxiety and a lack of hope in the future. But it is possible to move from Distress to Deliverance when we earnestly long after God, avoid discouragement, and have great hope in Him.
David Goff is the Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church of Washington MI