For the past couple of months, I have been memorizing Psalm 42. I use a specific technique that helps one memorize large portions of scripture. This technique is based on reading and reciting a passage 10 times each day for 100 days. In addition to reading and reciting the passage one also contemplates on the passage throughout the days. This allows one to become intimate with the passage.
We recently had the opportunity to holiday in South Africa. Just outside our unit stood two very tall palm trees (see photo). The tree on the right would be a typical palm tree we see throughout Africa where the dried dead palms hang down just below the green living palms. The tree on the left is not typical as the dried dead palms are hanging down midway up the tree with a section of bare trunk leading up to the living palms at the top.
As I considered these trees each day I was reminded by the unique tree of the psalm I had been memorizing, especially verse five.
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 dead branches reminded me of the downcast soul of the psalmist. It was a picture of the dark times one experiences in life. I saw the bare trunk as representing the hope in God. The living palms represent our praises to God–praises for who He is and what He has done for us.
I believe we all experience times when we are low due to circumstances beyond our control. Dark times come to all of us and we should not despair when they do. The psalmist does not hide his feelings; he is honest about them. I like the way he talks to himself about how he is feeling and what he needs to do about it. He also consoles himself that if he would just hope in God his praises would return to his life.
It is important for us to understand it is hope in God that lifts us out of our despair.
For the psalmist, hope meant waiting on God with eager anticipation. His hope is grounded in the salvation that God has promised. It is rooted in what God did in the past and what He promises he will do in the future. Hope gives us confidence for the present and the future. Hope should motivate us through times of despair. We hope in the same God as the psalmist did with the added benefit of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
So when you are feeling down or overwhelmed with the troubles of life remind yourself to hope in God. Look into His word to remind you of what He has done and what He promises to do. Allow hope to lift your spirit so you may praise Him once again as the trunk of the palm tree reaches for the sky allowing the living palms to flourish at the top of the tree.