Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:5
The Christian life is not free from challenges. In fact, this may not be the news you want to hear--a person following hard after Christ will experience some hard times. No one goes out seeking a dark valley. But, ready or not, here they come. Do you know anyone who hasn't experienced a deep disappointment, a relationship break-up, a loss, the death of a loved one, an undesired move, a wayward child, personal rejection, illness? The list goes on. In this life there will be trouble.
In his book The Faith, Charles Colson has an excellent chapter dealing with the inevitable suffering of the Christian life. Based solidly in Scripture and illustrated with stories of real people, Colson says that "suffering belongs to our calling as Christians." Regarding the inevitability of tough times, Colson writes, "This is why easy-believism, the prosperity gospel, is so abominable: it sets a person up for a terrible fall when the first hardship comes, as it will. Whatever glimmer of faith the person might have had may well be snuffed out." Then Colson concludes, "So the real question is not whether we will suffer but how we will react to adversity when it comes. We can see it as a miserable experience to be endured, or we can offer it to God for his redemptive purposes."*
The man after God's own heart knew his share of difficult times. David experienced disappointment and discouragement firsthand. He wrote of his hard times openly and often in the Psalms. But David also knew that God never wastes our time. He uses every circumstance to build us, grow us, and develop us. God uses them, as Colson says, "for his redemptive purposes." Whatever you are going through today, even if your soul is "downcast" and "disturbed," I invite you to join David in his prayer:
Oh, God, my hope is in You. Oh, my God, I will praise You! [Then wait quietly and ask Him to ignite your heart.] In Jesus' name. Amen.
*The Faith, Charles Colson, Zondervan, 2008