Every Thought Captive

Why Have You Forgotten Me?

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
    and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
    a multitude keeping festival.
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.
My soul is cast down within me;
    therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
    from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a deadly wound in my bones,
    my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
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.
Send Out Your Light and Your Truth

Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
    against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
    deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
    why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?
Send out your light and your truth;
    let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
    and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God,
    to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
    O God, my God.
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.

Psalm 42:1-43:5

After over eight weeks of sheltering in place, the turmoil of these times has a way of getting to us one way or another. While some have enjoyed a slower pace of life and extended time with loved ones (Thanks be to God!), many are stretched to unprecedented extremes. All of us have questions in search of an answer. Psalms 42-43 lead us in praying our questions and emotions honestly to discover the hope for our present darkness.

Together, Psalm 42-43 form a unified prayer with three stanzas each ending with the refrain:

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 prayer covers seven different gut-wrenchingly honest questions, four of which are repeated for a total of 13.

• When shall I come and appear before God? (1x)
• Where is your God? (2x)
• Why are you cast down, O my soul? (3x)
• Why are you in turmoil within me? (3x)
• Why have you forgotten me? (1x)
• Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? (2x)
• Why have your rejected me? (1x)

Psalm 42 opens with longing for the life-giving stream of God’s presence. Like saltwater to one stranded at sea, tears only exacerbate the thirst as haunting accusations linger, “Where is your God” (v. 3)? Even the joyful memory of worshipping with the people of God deepens the depression (v. 4). Despite all this, the refrain draws the swirl of emotions to a dramatic point: “Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, My salvation and my God” (v. 5-6).

As the psalmist’s attention turns—“My soul is cast down within me, therefore I remember you” (v. 6)—the cascading roar of majestic waterfalls and the mysterious power of the ocean’s billows point to the creator and sustainer of all things (v. 7). The Lord is intimately active in life-saving love. “By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me” (v. 8). This is not a passive “love ya” but a personally passionate: “I love you. I am coming after you. I am relentless.” But it does not always feel that way. With one breath the psalmist confesses the rock-solid security of God’s character, “God, my rock,” and with the next he cries out, “Why have you forgotten me” (v. 9)? Like a wound through the heart and to the bone, the taunting voices keep questioning God’s presence (v. 10).

As the refrain points once again to hope, Psalm 43 launches with three prayers in rapid procession—vindicate, defend, and deliver me! Enemies to the way of grace come in many forms—perhaps most are not immediately recognizable—but they share a few things in common: ungodly, deceptive, and unjust (v. 1). Out of the dark night of the soul, the prayer gathers to a greatness:

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God (v. 3-4).

The light of dawn has broken into the darkness. This prayer came in the flesh when Jesus walked onto the scene: “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16).

God sent His light and truth out through the one on the cross who said, “I thirst,” and cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” Out of the darkness of death, Jesus walked into the glorious brightness of resurrection dawn. Those who hope in Jesus as “my salvation and my God” are like reflective mirrors of God’s radiant love. When we honestly pray our questions and longings, hope in suffering, trust in God—advance healing, beauty, truth, and justice in the name of Jesus—the light shines. The resurrection illuminates our present darkness in light of the day when we are finally and fully lead to the dwelling place of God (Revelation 21). In Jesus, every thirst shall be quenched, every hunger satisfied, every tear wiped away, every accusation hushed, every cast down heart lifted, every forgotten one found, every rejected one welcomed in, and every wound healed. Hope in God, for our lives shall become an eternal glory of gladness.

About the Author

Photograph of Brett Bradshaw

Brett Bradshaw

Ministry Leader of PCPC@WORK

Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Brett Bradshaw joined the staff of Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas, TX in 2018 to lead Pegasus Institute initiatives exploring the intersection of calling, leadership, and culture. His desire is to help others grow in Christ and be living witnesses of the gospel in marriages and families; friendships and relationships; and vocations in business, civil service, the church, education, and the arts. Brett met his wife, Andrea, while attending Texas A&M University, and they have two young girls, Elizabeth “Ellie” Grace and Emery Joy. Andrea is the woman he delights to love, and his daughters are the little ones who are a daily glimpse of the Kingdom of God.