The Path to Thanksgiving Goes Through Suffering

Josh Greiner September 4, 2022 Psalm 42-43
Outline

2 keys for drawing near to God in times of adversity

I. Address Your Struggles Honestly

A. With God (42:2b, 9, 43:2)

Psalm 42:2b - When shall I come and appear before God?

Psalm 42:9 - Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

Psalm 43:2b - Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

B. With yourself (42:5, 11, 43:5)

C. With others (42:3, 10)

Psalm 42:3 - While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

Psalm 42:10 - As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, while they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

II. Turn and Trust in God with All that You Have

A. Hope in God for future worship (42:5,11,43:5)

Psalm 42:5 - Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.

Psalm 42:11 - Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.

Psalm 43:5 - Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.

B. Relying on God’s loyal covenant love (42:8)

Psalm 42:8 - The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life.

Exodus 34:6-7 - Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands…”

Psalm 43:1 - Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!

C. Rehearsing truth about God

If you have your Bible’s with you, please open up to Psalm 42. That is on page ____ of the front section of the Bible under the chair in front of you.

As you are turning there, let me ask you…what was one of the classes and topics that you dreaded most in High School?

I realize for some of you that was not long ago, but for some of you that may have been…well, the amount of time between High School for you is rather large…larger than a majority of the population in this room.

Most folks can remember a fairly good amount about High School for all sort of reasons….so what is some of the classes and topics you didn’t like.

I can tell you for me…and I would be willing to be that for many of us…it would have been studying Shakespeare and all that poetry, Ancient English and the stuff like that.

Let’s be honest, we studied it…because our teachers made us. We were told that no one matched Shakespeare in the English language…we just wanted to figure out what he was saying.

Now, there are some that this is not the case…you might be one of the few that thinks this way…you love the language, the poetry…the confusion 😊

If that’s you…God bless you 😊

For the rest of us…we just tried to muddle through it…Get some sort of passing Grade…and be done with it.

Well…here is the thing…a fairly large section of the Bible…the Book of Psalms…is Poetry.

You might like a good action story, or an epistle that just shoots straight at you…do this not that...but the Bible is diverse and has many different genres.

You might remember a few weeks ago Pastor Viars was talking about Hermeneutics when he preached on Proverbs…and one thing that you have to do when you are reading and studying the Bible is establish what Genre you are in.

Well, today we find ourselves in the book of Psalms and we are looking at Poetry.

And here is the thing about Poetry…it’s not a Pauline Epistle, and its not a Historical Narrative, and it’s not a pithy saying like Proverbs.

That’s going to be key to our study, and our reading of the text this morning as we consider….

The Path to Thanksgiving Goes Through Suffering. And what I hope we will see is

2 Keys for drawing near to God in times of adversity

In our text, we will see a bit of a structure, here…

A. Lament (42:1–4)

B. Hope (v. 5)

A′. Lament (vv. 6–7)

B′. Hope (v. 8)

A″. Lament (vv. 9–10)

B”. Hope (v. 11)

A″. Lament (43:1–4)

B”. Hope (v. 5)

Please follow along with me as I read from the Word of the Lord.

PSALM 42

For the choir director. A Maskil of the sons of Korah. There are 12 “Maskil’s” in the Psalms. The meaning of the word is uncertain, but most scholars place the word as “well-written.” C.f. Ps. 47:7 for support of this understanding.

As Brent reminded us, the songs of the Son’s of Korah should be/could be read with the incident of Korah’s rebellion. However, there may not be much significance here.

1 As the deer pants for the water brooks,

So my soul pants for You, O God.

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;

When shall I come and appear before God?

Notice a bit of a build right there…BTW….we went from God…to living God…to, literally, the face of God in the Hebrew…rendered as “before God.” And later to “My God”

3 My tears have been my food day and night, As the dear goes to the stream for living water, to sustain and refresh it, the Psalmist is going to God to draw what he needs for life. His Soul is hungry, and what does he get? Tears. He longs for refreshing water and what he gets is bitter and salty tears.

While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

4 These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me.

For I used to go along with the throng (Look for the theme or praise…worship…and community with God’s people) and lead them in procession to the house of God,

With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.

5 Why are you in despair, O my soul? [lit. in Hebrew, “Why do you sink down, O my soul?” it’s a euphemism for saying he is “dissolving away.” It is also important to note that this word is only used in Ps. 42, 43, 44 and Lam. 3:20]

And why have you become disturbed within me? (when we think of disturbed, think of commotion, uproar, loudness)

Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him

For the help of His presence. Literally: [for again I will give him praise, [for] the salvation of the face of my God]

6 O my God (scholars believe “O my God” belongs at the end of V6, so NIV, ESV do this) ,

my soul is in despair within me;

Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan

And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

7 Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;

All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me. (Notice the contrast to the heights of the mountain to the depths of the waterfall… the picture is being overwhelmed by water, think tidal sea) c.f. Jon. 2:3

8 The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; This is the only use of YHVH in the passage. His hessed here is contrasted with the “lo-hessed goyyim” of 43:1

And His song will be with me in the night,

A prayer to the God of my life.

9 I will say (OK, so here is his prayer) to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me?

Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

10 As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, Literally in Hebrew “with a shattering in my bones my enemies taunt me” The picture is that his enemies have wounded him deeply.

While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

11 Why are you in despair, O my soul?

And why have you become disturbed within me?

Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,

The help of my countenance and my God. Notice the addition of “my God” from v5 above.

“My Countenance” Many scholars note that “my countenance” makes little sense here, and prefer to amend to “his presence” which is followed in most other translations….NET notes and NIV, ESV translations.

That is what happens in V5.

1 Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; notice the legal terms here. He has been under attack, and now requests divine justice.

O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!

2 For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me?

Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

3 O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me;

Let them bring me to Your holy hill Remember, in verse 6 from Ps. 42.

This is, by many scholars, this Holy Hill…This Mount Harmon…to be the Hill where Jesus transfigured…and so if you really want to do some investigating…you will see really quickly…why, when Jesus is on the Mount with Moses and Elijah (who represent Truth here)….Peter says, “Let me build you some tabernacles…let me build you some dwelling places…he had Ps. 43:3 on his mind. He has a bit of the Kingdom on his Mind.

And to Your dwelling places.

4 Then I will go to the altar of God,

To God my exceeding joy;

And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.

There is that music again….that corporate picture of worship….

5 Why are you in despair, O my soul? Remember, there is a contrast running through the Psalms of being bent (the literal meaning) and going up and standing upright. He is trying to draw a picture between the two.

And why are you disturbed within me?

Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him,

The help of my countenance and my God.

I. Address Your Struggles Honestly

In our passage, the Psalmist addresses three groups of people: God, others, and himself. We are going to look at how our own hearts interact with these groups.

By way of being a counselor, it is wise to at least point out, when you are struggling, these are the same through groups that are always impacting our hearts.

God is influencing and shaping your heart….others are impacting your heart…and of course, you….you are influencing can shaping your heart.

Whenever you are going through something, you should look for the dynamic relationship between these groups…

We will start off by looking at addressing our struggles honestly…

With God (42:2b, 9, 43:2)

The Psalmist cries out to God a number of times.

“…When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:2b)

“ “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”” (Psalm 42:9)

“Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Psalm 43:2b)

Now, I don’t think that God literally forgot about God….but that is the lived experience of the Psalmist…and if we are honest, that is how we feel many times when we are in suffering and hard times….

Commentator Willem VanGerermen says….

Adverse conditions create an optimum context for reflection.

Now you are going to have to see if you agree with that…but I tend to think it is very true.

In our text, the Psalmist is honest with God in two main ways…and I think that these ways are pretty common for us….First,

  1. When God feels far off and your feel stuck (42:2)

Remember, he is “hungry for God, yet he only gets tears for food….How many of us here today can relate with this experience? God feels far off…you feel stuck…you just don’t understand what God is up to at all!

Following that….we are to be honest with God about our struggles with him….

  1. When you can remember better times (42:4)

“These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.” (Psalm 42:4)

Again, Commentator Willem VanGerermen says….

Living in isolation from the land, he could not experience God’s presence in the magnificent structure of the temple. Down deep in his heart he asked the same question, “Where is my God?” Not knowing where else to turn, he looks back in remembrance, digs deeply into his own soul, and then looks to God for the final answer to his despairing feeling.

Now, that may not be as universal of an experience for all of us here…some of you may not be able to actually recall better times, but the Psalmist does.

We are mentioning times for crying out to God and being honest with him…but also….

But we are not done, we also need to address the struggle honestly…

With Yourself (42:5, 11, 43:5)

We see that in the constant refrain…why are you downcast, Oh my soul? This is a bit different than the conversation that the author was having with God…he is talking about two main things…

  1. When you are downcast about your life situations
  1. When life seems out of control (disrupted)

But, what is clear is that in those times…when life is out of control…when you are depressed…The Psalmist is talking to you heart.

Let me ask you…when you are down cast…when you are struggling…are you doing this? Are you “talking to yourself?”

You have to be honest with God…and you have to be honest with yourself.

It does not do you, or anyone else any good for you to lie to yourself…depressed…I’m not depressed. Hurting? I’m not hurting.

There are a few that come to my mind because we tend to not be honest with ourselves.

  • We want to be seen in a particular way in our own mind and by others….
  • Would you agree that the Psalmist is not really interested in that.
  • We are afraid of what will happen if we are viewed by others, or even ourself in a particular way.

Here is the point. During hard times…we need to be honest with God about what we are feeling…we need to be honest with ourselves…and then we need to be honest….

With Others (42:3, 10)

The author of our text is very much at odds with someone…he has enemies.

“While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”” (Psalm 42:3)

“As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”” (Psalm 42:10)

Now, this sort of taught, “where is your God” was fairly common in the ANE.

For example, in a number of places in Psalms we see the enemy asking this question…and in a literal sense, it is asked is Ps. 115 because Israel did not have any physical objects that represented God.

Notice how it is used in Joel 2:17

“Have pity, O Lord, on your people; please do not turn over your inheritance to be mocked, to become a proverb among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, “Where is their God?”” (Joel 2:17, NET)

That is what is happening here…the Psalmist is being mocked by their enemy at their misfortune.

We even see this type of mocking of Christ on the Cross…do you remember what they said to Jesus?

““HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE Him now, IF HE DELIGHTS IN HIM; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ”” (Matthew 27:43)

So, we need to be honest and address our struggles—and we see three particular ways in our text.

  1. When you are taunted by your enemies

This might look different for each of us, but it will most likely be a part of our lives.

Around 10 years ago, Faith was in the process of developing this very campus…

This project was not without its controversy.

In fact, the local opposition to this project was organized by some of the very members of Purdue, it’s staff, and the WL city counsel who would claim to be Christians.

By many accounts, they did not want a Bible believing church to be at the entrance to Purdue. Our views on the Bible, on counseling, on marriage and roles therein, and so on were all brough into question.

If you were not at those meetings, perhaps one of the best things you could ever do, beyond reading your Bible, is looking at the tip of the spear when it came to pushback that we had in this project.

We even saw that more and more this past January with the 31-21…and the pressure that was being put on Bible believing Christians.

Our Psalmist…when he was being attacked….WHERE IS YOUR GOD? He did not pack up and quit…but he was impacted by it. He was crying out to God.

We don’t want to pack up shop when folks attack us…but on the same point…we can admit when it impacts us.

College students…you might be mocked for living for Christ at PU…it’s only going to get worse.

Your friends, your peers those around you may mock you for living for Jesus…and when something goes wrong…you might here them chiding…WHERE IS YOUR GOD!

Husbands, as you try to lead your family… you might quietly hear the beatings of the hearts of others as you fall on your face…where is your God!

Wives…Children at Home…there will be all sorts of groups what want to mock you…and the reality is, as we see from this Psalm….that will impact you.

We need to be honest with God when it does. Pretending that you are find is not the solution.

We also just see the dynamic here…secondly…

  1. When others treat you poorly

We are all affected by when others treat us poorly. When others mistreat us…that impacts us.

It is no good pretending that it does not shape us and our hearts…the key will be…and we are getting there…what do we do in the moment when we are treated poorly.

The last dynamic with others that we see in our text is when…

  1. When it seems like it will never stop (all day long)

So many of us have been there…when it seems like it will never stop. When it will keep on going on and on.

There is something to this type of suffering that is bound to impact…bound to shape us. When it seems that the pain, the suffering, the hurt, the betrayals continues to go on and on and on…be honest with God…and be honest with yourself, and be honest how others are treating you.

But then, as I mentioned in the structure of our Psalm…there is this majority of Lament in the Psalm….but then there is the message of hope…and what we need to see is that we need to…

II. Turn and Trust in God with All that you have

You can see from some of the verses that we have already looked at, the Psalmist is desperate…he is crying out to God…and he is not trying to put his hope in anything, or anyone…other than God.

In fact, God is referenced over 30 times in this short passage….God is the focus of his thinking and his words…and what he attempts to do over and over again is place his hope in God in three very different and particular ways

Hope in God for future worship (42:5,11,43:5)

“Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.” (Psalm 42:5)

“Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)

“Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalm 43:5)

Three times this refrain of hope for future praise God comes for.

The Psalmist tells himself, to Hope in God…because he knows that he will praise Him. As we mentioned, this countenance and His presence are all about the nearness of God. He is going to find his comfort, his joy, with the nearness of God.

He says that he is going to hope in God…even when others mocked him….

Brothers and Sisters, this is a great time for us to ask, when we are in the midst of hard times…what are you placing your hope in.

It is easy for us to say, “Well, I am putting my hope in God.”

But, if we were to consider your thoughts during that moment, your actions…would that be true?

Would we see that you are actually placing your hope in God? Or are you putting your hope in something else

  • Hard work
  • Money
  • Others
  • Time
  • Your ability to endure

All of us here tend to find hope somewhere else beyond God…that is part of our idolatrous hearts…we look for hope elsewhere.

Remember, the first thing that we need to do is be honest. Where do you tend to put your hope?

Then, what steps do you need to take to ensure that you are placing your hope in God and God alone?

For example, when it comes to:

  • Knowing God’s word—DO you know where you would find that hope?
  • Being in God’s community — Are you plugged in right now so that when you are going through deep water…someone can give you the hope that will breath life?
  • Prayer—I have noticed that when folks are going through deep water, they are praying, but their prayers are not formed and informed by Scripture….they are just, ‘God—get me out of this….God…hello….do you hear me? Get me out of this!’

In all three of those verses, it talked about the presence and the nearness of God as our comfort.

We see that dynamic played out all over the Bible…when God is far away…we do not feel the comfort that comes with his presence, just like with people in our lives, whom we love…we want them to be near us.

But that relationship is dependent on you in many ways….are you drawing near to God…or you working to make your relationship with him something of meaning and significance?

The point that we are trying to make from the text is, that there is a call for us to put our hope in God in the midst of difficult times…and that when we do…that will lead to future worship.

The text talks about it in three ways we will be lead to future worship…and by placing our hope in God.

  1. With a voice of joy

The Psalmist talks about “God my exceeding Joy”

Is that what God is to you? Is he your exceeding joy?

When you think of God…and the hope, and the Love, and who he is…does it excite you…thrill you?

I realize that in this room many would say…NO. God is God…that is why I am here…but DOES he bring you JOY?

If the answer to that is---like I said, NO…then today is the day to consider what steps to do I need to take to have God as a person with him I find JOY.

Oh that you would find God to be your Joy…then as you go through the deep suffering that the Psalmist talks about…you would be able to face the difficulties of life.

The text also talks about possessing Thanksgiving as we approach God for worship.

  1. With thanksgiving

The heartbeat of every Christian should be thanksgiving…for what God has done for us…and what he will do.

So much of our thinking is not consumed with thanksgiving…a deep reliance on God…and a thanksgiving for what he has done…and according to his word…what he will do.

The text also mentioned….

  1. With “festival keeping” [need to unpack why this was important]

That last one was key for the Jewish life. Religious worship centered so often around the various festivals that God has instituted and ordained in his word.

The point of the text was…we are to put our trust and hope in God for the future…what will happen….that is a lot like what we are doing with the Strategic 3 year ministry plan…and so much of what is happening with the capital campaign.

Let me pause and ask…are you doing that when it comes to making a commitment to how you are going to be involved with the upcoming plan?

Are you saying, I will put my trust and my hope in the God who will take care of me?

Have you reviewed the plan, and said,…well, that might stretch us a little, but I think that we can trust in God.

Have you sat down and reviewed your finances and said, we are going to trust God?

Here is my message for everyone here…what we want from everyone here is for everyone…including the college students…to do something.

You will notice out in the lobby, there isn’t a dollar number talking about how close we are by way of $$$ but we are measuring by family units.

Are you placing your trust in God for the future worship…the future joy like the passage describes?

If you are, then you will also need to be….

Relying on God’s Loyal Covenant love (42:8)

“The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night, A prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:8)

As was mentioned, this is the only time that the covenant name of God…YHVH is used in the passage. It’s rather significant that this happens right in the middle of the Psalm and literally right next to the description of who God is…HESED.

One of our greatest strengths in the times of darkness, when life is hard…is to depend on the faithful, covenant loyal love of God.

This type of love is so clearly demonstrated when God passes in front of Moses on the Mountain…remember when Moses says, “Show me your glory”

“Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, ...”” (Exodus 34:6–7)

The key characteristic of this type of love, is that it is love combined with faithfulness.

For many of us, let’s be honest, our love is not “covenant keeping faithfulness”

If you offend me, if you hurt me, if you insult me…I’m over it. We are done.

God’s love for us goes for beyond that type of shallowness…and there is great hope there.

There is great hope in knowing that there is nothing you can do to lose the love of God.

If you are born again…if you have trusted in the DBR of Christ….that type of Covenant keeping love…that love that you cannot mess up and lose, is not going anywhere.

There is so much joy and safety in knowing that your God is not fickle….he is not going to love you one moment and not the next.

I would also say, that if you are a Christian, that is the type of love that you are called to show to those around you in the body of Christ…in your marriage…and in your parenting of your children.

Is there evidence that you are have the same type of Love that God has?

Do you love those who love you back?

Do you love until someone hurts you…and then you are done with them?

Do you love without sacrifice or pain?

If so, then your love is not the type of love that this passage talks about…that is not the HESSED of the Bible.

You might ask those around you…if you think it would be something that you might change…do you see that type of HESSED in me? Do you see me loving others the way the Bible talks about God’s love?

But lastly on this point of HESSED, the text interestingly in the first verse of 43 contrasts his enemies against this type of love.

“Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!” (Psalm 43:1)

You can’t tell it in your NASB, but the “ungodly nation” literally in the Hebrew is, “Lo-Hessed- Goyyim”

Goyyim (you can hear were we get the English word Gentiles…the non Jewish others of the world… and Lo being “no”…the people who are not faithful is love.

It is my prayer that no one is praying that prayer about you…deliver me from the person…his love is deceitful and unjust.

You might be thinking, I don’t have that love, and all this talk…I’m just not sure of…that is where you might need to ask…do you even know Christ as your Savior.

In a room like this, it would be foolish to think that everyone knows the faithful, covenant keeping love of Christ….

[the message of the gospel]

Lastly, we trust and place our hope in God by….

Rehearsing Truth about God

The truth that we see described here of God is things like

  1. Rock (42:9)
  1. My Strength (43:2)
  1. My Joy (43:4)

I mentioned this earlier, that when we are struggling there is a lot that we can do, and one of those things is that we can put our trust by changing the way that we think.

As you work through hard times…one to of the things that you will need to focus on is your thinking.

What do you think about God…what do you think about yourself…and others.

When it comes to God…often you will have to purposely and intentionally rehears various truths about God….and the trick is figuring out, what are those truths that you need to focus on?

Part of what all of us, as we get to know God…need to do is come to know what is the truth of God that we need to focus on right here and right now…

Well, beloved, we will all experience hard times in our lives…the question is, how we will respond?

Will we see that the path of praise and worship of God often goes through suffering?

When we are suffering, do we see that we need to just be honest with that suffering…and after we have been honest about it…turn and trust God with all we have…depending entirely on God’s loyal and covenant love.

If we do so, then God will be our joy, he will be our strength, he will be our Rock.

Authors

Josh Greiner

Roles

Pastor of Faith West Ministries - Faith Church

Director of Faith West Community Center - Community Ministries West

Vice-Chair of the CDC Board - Northend Ministries

MABC Instructor - Faith Bible Seminary

Director of the Biblical Counseling Training Conference - Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries

Bio

BA - Political Science, Purdue University
M.Div. - Faith Bible Seminary
Th.M. - Biblical Counseling, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Ph.D. - Biblical Counseling, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (a.b.d.)

Pastor Josh Greiner joined the staff at Faith Church in 2013 after being a part of the three year internship at FBS and oversees the Faith Church West Campus. He also serves as an ACBC certified counselor, grader, and fellow in training; he teaches in Faith’s Biblical Counseling Ministries and serves as an adjunct professor for Faith Bible Seminary (M.Div. and MABC); and serves his community on the Board of the Faith Community Development Corporation and as the chaplain of the West Lafayette Fire Department. Josh is married to Shana and has four children: Winston, Cecilia, Lorelai, and Edwin.

Read Josh Greiner's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Greiner to Faith Church.