“O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again. Amen.” —Henri Nouwen

When Life is Tough


Read Psalm 42:1-6

by F. Belton Joyner

The psalmist knew what it was to live in the desert. Life itself depended on finding water that kept flowing, even in the midst of the summer’s driest heat. That’s the kind of relationship we seek with God: a fountain that flows when our souls are thirsty, a presence that is real even when we do not feel it.

If God’s love is like an ever-flowing river, sometimes it seems that the flow is an underground stream, not visible to the eye of our experience. “Where is your God?” is the mocking call, not only of the unbeliever (see Matthew 27:43) but also the cry of one who has sought to be faithful (see Matthew 27:46). To wonder why God is not more evident is a question from the human journey. We ponder that issue each time there is a hurricane or tornado or tsunami or bombing or some other disaster beyond our grasp.

For the writer of the psalm, Jordan and Hermon are a long way from the familiar joys and festivals of Jerusalem. Those lands (those experiences) are a long way from the place where he remembers God’s active presence. But remember he does, for in the remembering he finds hope-hope even in the far places, even in the dry places. Because the God he remembers is a living God, he has hope. In the language of the Old Testament, the word translated “living” is the same word that describes fresh water. That’s a good hope for a dusty day!


0 God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, bring  the freshness  of  your presence in  such a way that  I can celebrate you even when I  do  not  see  you, praise  you even when I do not feel you, thank you  even  when I  do  not hear you. Amen.

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