We all encounter difficult seasons and circumstances in our life. Perhaps the desires of our heart long to be fulfilled. Perhaps we are struggling through family or financial difficulties. Perhaps we’ve been confronted with a sudden loss or diagnosis that has shaken our world to its core. When we face difficult times, how do we hold on to hope?
King David knew a few things about suffering. He struggled through family brokenness, betrayal, the death of a child, and much more over the course of his life. Through his writing in the Psalms, we witness his incredible strength and determination to cling to hope in hard times. I’ve gathered five of these Psalms for you today. They offer guidance for fighting through our own emotional and spiritual difficulties while trusting God for the future. Even in our greatest struggles, the Psalms remind us that God is walking beside us, and what feels like the end may just be a bend in the road.
1. Psalm 71—For when we feel like everyone is against us:
Let me never be put to shame….
Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked,
Out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.
For You are my hope, O Lord God;
You are my trust from my youth.
By You I have been upheld from birth;
You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb.
My praise shall be continually of You.
I have become as a wonder to many,
But You are my strong refuge.
Let my mouth be filled with Your praise
And with Your glory all the day.
…But I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more.
My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness
And Your salvation all the day,
For I do not know their limits.
I will go in the strength of the Lord God;
I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.
(verses 1, 4-8, 14-16)
We will encounter trials. In fact, Jesus instructed His disciples to expect them. But in the midst of it all, God invites us to acknowledge the weight of our pain and suffering before Him. When it feels like the world is against us (and maybe it is!), we know that God never walks away from us or fails us. He is our refuge, our strength, and our salvation.
2. Psalm 121—For when we feel discouraged and helpless:
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.
God often encourages us, guides us, and upholds us through other believers, but our first call for help goes to Him. As we cry out, He may speak to us through other people, through our quiet times in the Word or prayer, or a still small voice when we least expect it. God enables those around us to support us, yet it is His work. He is the One we call to and the One worthy of our praise.
3. Psalm 13—For when we feel like God has forgotten us:
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and hear me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes,
Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest my enemy say,
“I have prevailed against him”;
Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
But I have trusted in Your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
Sometimes we wonder why God is taking so long. Is He ignoring us? Is He punishing us for something? Does He not care? The truth is that God’s love never ceases; His mercies never come to an end (Lamentations 3:22). Though He sometimes delays, God never deserts us. Because He is faithful, we can sing to the Lord and recognize His blessings in our lives, whatever our circumstances.
4. Psalm 63—For when we feel empty, dry, and deserted:
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.
When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.
But those who seek my life, to destroy it,
Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
They shall fall by the sword;
They shall be a portion for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by Him shall glory;
But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.
Like David, we sometimes find ourselves in a “desert” season with circumstances that leave us emotionally and spiritually dry. In these times, God urges us to draw near to Him and to hear His voice more clearly. When we do, He becomes living water to us. Even in the desert, He sees us and sustains us.
If we seek God with discipline, the desert can be one of the greatest adventures in gaining wisdom, strength, and maturity. The quietness of the desert allows us to get to know Him better, with more depth and fulfillment. He doesn’t enjoy our pain, but He delights in our tighter embrace.
The Lord knows the way through the wilderness. We only need to take His hand.
5. Psalm 30—For when God brings healing:
And have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried out to You,
And You healed me.
O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave;
You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
Now in my prosperity I said,
“I shall never be moved.”
Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong;
You hid Your face, and I was troubled.
I cried out to You, O Lord;
And to the Lord I made supplication:
“What profit is there in my blood,
When I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise You?
Will it declare Your truth?
Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me;
Lord, be my helper!”
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
Life is filled with ups and downs. In the valleys of life, it’s important to remember God’s goodness and His faithfulness. Then when we reach the mountaintops, our memory of the valleys prompts us to praise the God who faithfully leads us. He refines us through every part of the journey.
When we are confronted with disappointment, we find hope by looking up. It’s an opportunity to gird up our heart and reach for renewed strength as we say, “Lord, life has thrown me a curve, but even so I praise Your name. You are my Father, and You love me enough to train me and remake me. I trust You to turn my mourning into dancing.”
Helen Steiner Rice expressed this kind of faith in her poem “The Bend in the Road”:
And we view what we think is the end.
But God has a much wider vision
And He knows it’s only a bend—
The road will go on and get smoother
And after we’ve stopped for a rest,
The path that lies hidden beyond us
Is often the path that is best.
So rest and relax and grow stronger,
Let go and let God share your load
And have faith in a brighter tomorrow.
You’ve just come to a bend in the road.