As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants 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 day long, "Where is your God?" 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. Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. O my God, 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. Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me. 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. I will say to God my rock, "Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?" As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, while they say to me all day long, "Where is your God?" 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. (Psalm 42, NASB)
"Hope dances in the puddles 'til the sun comes out again." It was the verse from an electronic card I sent to my sister. I sent it on the day that marks the fifth anniversary of the loss of her husband. The day after that marks eleven years since we laid my younger brother's baby boy to rest. Shortly, we will pass ten years since my brother Mike left us. And, as I've noted before, this season of remembrance was "kicked off" by recalling the loss of my father just over twenty-four years ago. So the tone of David's despair rings pretty close to my heart during these several weeks. My soul definitely feels disturbed and disquieted.
But true hope "dances in the puddles" even while it grieves. It asks the same questions as others do, but it rests firmly in the answer of the One Hope on which it is built. The pain and sorrow are real - no doubt about that; but the reality also rests in a deep trust that God will bring the sun out again and has a distinct purpose in the rain. That's the reason my family hopes and knows these relationships that have been cut short on this earth will be restored once we join our loved ones. And we "dance in the puddles" even when those puddles are created by our own tears.
As has been the case for the past several years, friends and family join my brother, his wife, and his son in providing shoeboxes filled with "hope" to the Operation Christmas Child project. This year, the people that run the program have made provision for coded labels that will allow us to track packages as they zip around the globe. And as those boxes are filled, shipped, and delivered, we will watch them and "dance in the puddles" instead of turn our grief inward.
David asked the questions of God, but in the end he knew that God had not forsaken him at any moment. He faced untold moments of despair when he was being chased by a multitude of enemies. But underneath this Psalm, David knew the Source of Hope would allow him to forge ahead. It wasn't always easy and it wasn't always immediate. In other words, there were often puddles in front of him. But I believe that David knew how to dance in them - and dance he did!
My travel on the Crooked Path will be filled with bends and curves, ups and downs, and rises and dips. It will rain, and that means there will be puddles. Some of them will be shallow and some fairly deep. Many will disappear quickly, but some will linger on. In each case, when the sky clouds over and I am tempted to despair, I will have a choice. I can either give in and wallow in my own self doubt, or I can kick off my shoes and "dance in the puddles." I hope that in the midst of my own grief, I can continue to choose to dance. The sun will return, you know. If not in this life, then in the next.
- Do you find yourself struggling under a weight of despair and difficulty? Do you find it hard to see the sun because your world always seems to be overcast?
- Have you turned your worries and grief inward, rather than seeking for the Source of Hope and crying out to Him? Can you imagine the relief that is available if you could only do that?
- Are you willing to "dance in the puddles" and trust God to see you through until the sun returns? What is your answer when He asks, "Do you trust me?"