Blog Post by
Rev. Vicky Michaels
Grace Presbyterian Church
Crystal City, Missouri

Psalm 42 – The New Living Translation
For the choir director: A psalm[a] of the descendants of Korah.

1 As the deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for you, O God.
2 I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I go and stand before him?
3 Day and night I have only tears for food,
while my enemies continually taunt me, saying,
“Where is this God of yours?”

4 My heart is breaking
as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers,
leading a great procession to the house of God,
singing for joy and giving thanks
amid the sound of a great celebration!

5 Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
6 my Savior and my God!

Now I am deeply discouraged,
but I will remember you—
even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan,
from the land of Mount Mizar.
7 I hear the tumult of the raging seas
as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
8 But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life.

9 “O God my rock,” I cry,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I wander around in grief,
oppressed by my enemies?”
10 Their taunts break my bones.
They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”

11 Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!

Well, here we go again.  Case numbers spiking, hospitals overrun.  Questions about what kind of mask to wear, when to quarantine, how to manage school children, what to do or not do in our churches.  Where do we go to ease our fears? We can go to scriptures, especially the psalms.

This psalm never ceases to stir my emotions.  Some say that the writer of this psalm was depressed, but we really cannot put today’s definition of depression on the person who wrote these words so many centuries ago.  Instead, I see this lament as an expression of loneliness.  A deep chasm of emptiness, of loneliness, where the psalmist thirsts for closeness with God that can only be described as a thirst so intense that her own salty tears are the only relief she can get.

Drawing on decades of caring for people with dementia, it was during my seminary years that the yearning for fellowship with the community of believers is what struck me the most about this psalm.  I thought of those afflicted with memory disorders who lived in facilities where they could be safely supported as the disease ravaged their thoughts and abilities.  The need for a safe environment also created barriers for maintaining relationships with church families and pastors.  Eventually unable to recognize the faces of even their closest loved ones, the loneliness and feelings of abandonment only deepen.

That was then, and this is now.  Over the last two years, most of us have experienced increased loneliness and yearning for fellowship, the likes of which most of us cannot remember.  Quarantine, isolation, lockdown, masking, social distancing are practices that are new to most of us.  Our loneliness does not result from the response to the virus itself, it also stems from differing opinions, beliefs, and practices related to the pandemic.  We have been unable to be there for loved ones in the most sacred moments of birth and death, by rules enforced to keep the community as safe as possible and by walls of our own making.  The trauma is real, the loneliness is real, and our longing to be reunited in our homes and churches without restrictions is real.

We call out to God for help even as we debate God’s role in all of this.  Is God punishing us? Is God bringing about the end of the world?  Is the second coming near?  Does God exist?  Does science exist?  Can a person believe in God and science at the same time?  All these questions have pelted pastors over these years when all this particular pastor wants to do is to be with the congregation of worshipers, lead the worship service, sing for joy, and give thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!  All of us, even pastors, have voiced the lament of the psalmist.

So where do we go from here?  Do not accuse me of being a Pollyanna, as I turn to scripture because, in a nation of individuals, I affirm my belief in both science and God.  While following the path of more strict guidelines, I turn to scripture to find hope.  Our holy text is filled with examples of God’s people surviving plagues, wars, and even the diaspora only to regroup and thrive once again.  Going deeper, it is through prayer and praising God that joy and confidence spring forth even in the cold chaos of winter.  I will put my hope in God! I will continue to praise my Savior and my God!  I will trust in the Holy Spirit to equip and strengthen me.  Can I get an AMEN?

Rev. Vicky Michaels
Grace Presbyterian Church
Crystal City, Missouri


  • Posted January 11, 2022 5:47 pm
    James Willock

    AMEN! God is the source of our hope through all the days and seasons of our lives.

    Thank you for reminding us. Blessings on your ministry

  • Posted January 11, 2022 8:14 pm
    Mia Walters


  • Posted January 11, 2022 8:16 pm
    Diane McCullough

    Rev. Vicky, you can definitely get an Amen!! My church, Webster Groves Presbyterian Church, has been a source of community in spite of all the necessary isolation. Communion with our church friends and communion with our God through the Holy Spirit brings courage and hope. Thank you for this truth telling and faith affirmation!! Peace.

  • Posted January 12, 2022 8:45 am
    Eric Post

    Amen, Vicky! Thanks for your honest, hopeful words.

  • Posted January 12, 2022 12:04 pm
    Barbara G. Willock

    Vicky, I too add my thanks to you for beautifully reminding us that our hope ~ our ONLY hope ~ is in God and it is in singing God’s praises that we are most deeply reminded of that. And when we are unable to physically gather with our faith community, we still have our communal hymnbook ~ the Psalms ~ to help us through the time we must be apart.
    Shalom, my sister.

  • Posted January 18, 2022 12:08 pm
    Paul D Frazier

    Vicky, this is superb.
    Thank you for expressing the pathos and anguish of our suffering, and the faithfulness of our tradition.
    Faith, hope, and love, abide.

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