Alone in a Crowd
I’ve been reading through the Psalms and last month came across Psalm 42 again. You may not remember it but you are probably familiar with the first verse:
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so I long for you, God.
What you might miss if you only sing the song is that this Psalm is an impassioned plea from the depths of depression and pain. The chorus of the Psalm is found in verse 5 and repeated in verse 11:
Why, my soul, are you so dejected?
Why are you in such turmoil?
Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him,
my Savior and my God.
The Psalmist feels alone and abandoned by God. People taunt him saying, “Where is your God?” He says in verse 9:
I will say to God, my rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about in sorrow
because of the enemy’s oppression?”
But probably the most disturbing and revealing part comes in verse 4. Here we find out that the Psalmist isn’t some poor castaway with no friends who sits in the basement of his home. He is in fact a ministry leader. He is actively serving God and the faithful. He is involved in worship. He is living out the work of ministry and still in the depths of pain. Verse 4 reads:
I remember this as I pour out my heart:
how I walked with many,
leading the festive procession to the house of God,
with joyful and thankful shouts.
He was leading the procession to the temple. He was out front as people praised the Lord. He saw their joy and heard their shouts of thanksgiving. And as all this surrounded him, he asked himself the question: Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil?
Please remember this, just because someone is in service to the King, just because they are leading the praise, just because they are preaching the gospel, that does not mean they are exempt from inner pain, from deep depression, from inner turmoil, from lingering doubts. Just because they are in the middle of the crowd doesn’t mean they are not lonely.
If you see yourself reflected in the emotion of Psalm 42 I urge you to adopt the practice of the Psalmist who answered his feelings with commitment to truth: I will still praise Him. I will put my hope in Him. He is my Savior and my God. Even when you don’t feel like it, commit to the truth and discipline your thoughts. Do not fall into service of your emotion.
To church members, please pray for your pastors and leaders. You don’t know what struggles they may be having. Sometimes the greatest struggle is to remain positive when everyone around you is negative. Pray for God to protect their heart and soul. Pray for Him to encourage them. Then go be an encouragement to them. Volunteer. Take on that task no one else will do. Teach that class of 7th graders! Thank your pastor for staying faithful through such turbulent times. Let him know how his ministry has impacted your life.
Pastors and church leaders have walked through one of the most unusual times in history the past 2 months. You may not agree with everything they have done or every decision they have made. You can still be thankful they were there to prayerfully serve the church. You can still let them know how you appreciate their willingness to step into the fire.