We need hope, in both crises and everyday life. But hope is often elusive. When we grow discouraged, we often placate our anxiety with transient things. But God offers true hope through his Word.
The Psalms is one of the most diverse books in the Bible. It includes psalms of worship, pleas for help, contemplative psalms, and even a wedding song. When I have struggled with discouragement and fear, the following psalms gave me hope: Psalm 46, Psalm 27, and Psalm 139. God has used these psalms to encourage me, and I would like to share them with you.
“God is our refuge and strength; an ever-present help in trouble.”
As a writer and poet, I love the violent imagery that fills this psalm. Few passages are more evocative than this one: “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”
But the beautiful imagery is not just for show. As this psalm shows, “God is our refuge and strength,” no matter what storms life throws at us. Even if the world goes to war and the ground itself crumbles, God is in control. By demonstrating God’s power in crises, Psalm 46 shows that we can hope in God.
When the corona virus first began to upset my life, canceling school and all my activities, then locking me inside my house, I panicked. Pandemics were not something that I had planned for or expected. In this fearful place, this psalm reminded me that God is still in control. He is constant, and always will be constant- even if the ground itself begins to crumble.
“The LORD is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid?”
At first, this psalm is quite cheerful. The psalmist is confident knowing that God is with him- “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?” But later in the psalm, the psalmist cries for help: “Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.”
Through both confidence and pain, this psalm expresses trust in God. “The LORD is my light and my salvation,” begins the psalmist, and he ends with this: “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” These final verses have helped me trust God even when it is difficult. It is easy during trials to believe that hard times will never end. But as the last words of Psalm 27 remind us, God will come through, and we will see his goodness.
“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.”
More than any of these psalms, Psalm 139 is a psalm of worship. The psalmist praises God and finds wonder in his omniscience, his omnipresence, and our own bodies’ complexity.
Two aspects of this psalm bring hope. First, like Psalm 46 it reminds us of God’s control. After all, God sees everything: “You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” Knowing this, the psalmist commits himself to God’s care: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” The message is clear- God is all-powerful, so we can trust him to take care of us.
Second, this psalm expresses wonder in God’s special creation- ourselves. Most of us have heard Psalm 139:14: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Each of our bodies is complex, beautiful, and hand-made. It is easy to let society’s requirements and expectations related to beauty bog us down, and our failures can make us lose hope. But as this psalm reminds us, God loves us, and he made each of us beautiful. We can rest in this.
The world is a mess. That is especially clear right now. In a world that we cannot control or fully understand, it is easy to lose hope. Psalms 46, Psalm 27 and Psalm 139 remind us of God’s ultimate control. They point us to him as the only source of peace and remind us that our worth comes from him. God is our true source of hope.
Sarah Howell is an eighteen-year-old, homeschooled deep thinker. She loves enjoying and creating beauty of all forms. She focuses on writing speculative fiction but also writes articles and blog posts. Throughout her teen years, Sarah has struggled with doubt and with trusting God with her life and her trials. This has taught her that struggling doesn’t make her any less worthy of love- “wilted is not worthless.” Her goal is to encourage other young women in the same struggles.