Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him… (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5)
As sinful and prideful creatures, our tendency is often to turn to God’s help as a last resort, after we have exhausted our other options. We forget how we are completely dependent upon God, even for the simplest tasks like eating and relieving ourselves, until these basic needs and bodily function are taken away from us. Affliction and despair drives us to remember God and to reflect upon how he has helped us in the past. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee… (Psalm 42:6)
Could it not be that God withdraws from us so that we may cherish being near to him, and give him the praise we have so long defrauded him of? Does your own experience not reveal that it is often in the most difficult times that the means of grace and our communion with God – that we have so long taken for granted – becomes precious to us again?
For the psalmist, even when descending into the pit of death, his appeal to God is the praise of God. Shall the dead arise and praise thee? (Ps. 88:10; cf. 6:5; 30:9; 115:17). Rhetorically, it seems like the answer is no. But theologically, we know that the answer is yes! In fact, it is precisely and only because God raises us from the dead that we are able to praise him; at first spiritually and at last bodily. In Psalms 42 and 43, his repeated counsel to himself is that he will yet praise God. God will not allow the lips of his willing worshipers to be silent forever; for his love and mercy’s sake, for his truth and glory’s sake; and above all, for Christ’s sake, in whom we are, and in whom we live.
It is in tribulation that we discover who or what our hope has truly been in and how reliable it really is; how worthy of praise it is. Have your eyes been turned away from God to live for other things, to hope in other things, or to praise other things, whatever they may be? Why are you cast down? Hope in God. You are not done praising him.