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 42:11).
There is a saying: Regret looks back. Fear looks around. Worry looks ahead. Faith looks up! It seems like a wise saying.
Some assume that if a person is a Christian, if a person has faith—especially strong faith—then that person’s life is usually free of worry and fear, of doubts and dread. But usually, that is not the case.
Troubles don’t come because of weak faith. Trouble is a natural product of the world we live in. If this were a perfect world, we would have no troubles. We would never be discouraged. Our soul would never be downcast, never disturbed. We would never need to look for help.
But that’s not the world we live in. Job lamented, “Yet a man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). Job knew what he was talking about. He lost his crops. He lost his flocks. He lost his children. Then he lost his health. That’s a world of trouble!
We don’t know why the writer of this psalm was downcast and disturbed. We don’t need to. We only need to know how he wanted to respond to it. Put your hope in God!
When troubles start to fade, we say, “Things are looking up!” That’s putting it backwards. It’s not the things that are looking up. We are the ones looking up instead of walking around with downcast hearts.
But trouble fading away does not mean that trouble has been solved. What counts is what is used to fix the problem. How long will the solution last? If I solve a money problem by piling more costs onto my credit card, the trouble will not stay away for very long.
Old Testament Job is right about the certainty of trouble coming into human lives. One problem fixed leaves room for the next problem to come in.
Put your hope in God! To do that we need to trust him. We may have fixed ideas of what the picture of our life should look like. We may think that anything less than picture-perfect is failure—and more reason to be discouraged.
Our ideas may be good, but God’s plans are better. Our hopes may bring disaster if they were put into motion. God’s plans are good for us. God’s plans are perfect for us. He never guesses, and he never makes a mistake.
How can we be sure of that? Where’s the proof that he can be trusted? The evidence lies on a hill far away. A bloody cross and rusty nails testify to his faithfulness. An empty grave calls out the testimony to his power to deliver us from any peril.
Look up when you are down! It’s an old Christian saying. But it is as new as today because it points us to our Savior and our God.
We claim as our own the words of Christians who lived before us:
My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare to make no other claim But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military