“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 42:11).

Amy Carmichael writes of the forbidding gloom that comes when we remember what was most precious to us but is now forever lost. She quotes Psalm 42:4: “These things I remember, how I marched with the procession to the house of God with joy and praise—a festive crowd.” Then Amy makes it personal: “Yes, we were once of a festive crowd. Was there any happy thing that we did not do? And we think of what used to be, so different from all that is now.”

Many of us remember the past with deep longing. Loved ones gone…wonderful relationships ended…financial security vaporized…health gone—the losses can generate thick gloom. Carmichael again quotes Psalm 42:4-5: “When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me.” She then asks, “Was there ever a sad heart that did not feel like that? The psalmist is ashamed of his feelings, hopes in God and praises him, but then gives into sadness again: “Why are thou cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?” Yet the psalmist also prays that God would send his light and his truth to lead him.

We see in so many of the Psalms the anguish and gloom of the human experience; yet, when the psalmist calls upon God, we see the lifting of that heaviness and the spirit of praise rising up in response to His wonders and His love for us. “It is all true,” writes Amy Carmichael. “We know that it is true, and yet our feet must walk the ways of earth down that dreary hill, past those somber trees, and into the valley, before we press up through the midst and stand under shining skies.”

Adapted from The One Year Book of Encouragement