My heart is aching today for those I love who are in deep distress. I feel helpless. I cannot heal their bodies, change their past, protect them against unfair accusations, or make others treasure them as they should. I can’t do these things for myself, much less for anyone else. These days my prayers feel like clouds around me, hanging, murky and thick.

So I’ve been turning more and more to scripture, to songs that give hope and declare truth. I turn to the One who CAN and does heal, change, protect, and treasure. Our good and loving God, sees what we cannot see. He lives in me, walks with me, and when I cannot form the words, His Spirit prays on my behalf with passionate groans I cannot begin to comprehend.

He understands our pain. He knows and He cares.

When David was in this place of desperate pain, he wrote out his prayers in the psalms. They have been such a comfort to me lately. Have you ever noticed this phrase repeats three times in Psalms 42 and 43? “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5).

Songs or poems with repeating phrases have a way of getting our attention. And the message imbeds in our soul. This is powerful self-talk. What an example for us to follow!

“Why am I so upset? Have I lost all hope? Don’t I know God will get me through this?” I needed to hear and repeat David’s words to myself. It’s going to be ok, Beth. God’s in control.

The bad news is, our enemy, Satan, knows how to use repetition as well. You’ve probably noticed when you’re worried, you tend to repeat the same negative thoughts over and over, digging yourself deeper into a pit of anguish. In order to get out, we need to change our pattern of thinking. Instead of the automatic “Why me?” “Why now?” “Where are you, God?” questions, we can choose to quote scripture to the enemy.

In fact, Psalm 42 is so rich with treasures, I want to walk through it with you and weave in prayers of response. There IS hope for you, for me, and for all those we’re praying for.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”

Lord, I’m desperate for You. I feel so alone. You’re the only One who can fill me up.

My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’”

They may not have actually said this, but it feels like that’s what they’re thinking, God. I wonder if others are questioning my faith. If I’m such a true believer why are these things happening to me? Why am I so depressed? Why can’t I pull out of this? Are You really there?

These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.”

I used to love to go to church and celebrate with other believers. I loved the singing, the preaching, and the great discussions about Your Word. I felt protected and joyful. But to be honest, it hurts now. I feel alone in the crowd. Unnoticed. Separate.

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.”

Here is that first repeated phrase. I’ve highlighted two key words—yet and therefore.

Lord, the circumstances of life have cast me down and I can’t seem to get up again. But it occurs to me that I don’t have to give in to this despair; You are my hope. I will yet praise you—now, by a determination of my will, but also later, when this darkness lifts. Because I am confident in who You are, I will praise You from the mountaintops.

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.”

Lord, some think this sounds like drowning, but I picture myself under the waterfall of Your outpouring love for me. The waters echo in the caverns behind the falls, magnifying the sound. It reverberates in my ears. I am surrounded. I can feel the booming thunder and hear the splash of water all around me. I choose to place myself in this fountain and be drenched by the flood of Your Spirit.

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.”

O Lord, let me rest in the music of Your love. Wake me with melodies of hope and praise. I will make them my prayers.

I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?’My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’”

O Jesus, there it is again—the isolation, abandonment, mockery—creeping in. Why won’t these thoughts go away?

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

I turn away from those dark thoughts, Jesus. You’ve always taken care of me, and You won’t leave me now. I put my hope in You. I will YET praise You. You have saved me from the chains of sin and shame. You are the only One worthy of praise. I determine now to give these fears and misery, all of them, to You. As many times as it takes, I will come and give You my anxious heart. Thank You, Lord, for listening, and caring for me. In Jesus name, Amen.  

The following song by Brandon Lake is moving and personal. Set aside the next nine minutes to just worship God. Go for a walk, sit in your car, get on your face, dance, weep, clap. Focus on each word, each note. Lose yourself in “Gratitude” and praise the God who loves you beyond measure.