Read Psalm 42:5
5 Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Saviour and my God! (NLT)
There are people who are struggling and let the whole world know. There are others who struggle and keep their smiley face on. It seems we can be sunk in despair and thrive on the sympathetic attention of others, or we can hide much of our sadness behind a façade of cheerfulness. All is ruined, or all is well.
Our psalmist offers us a better way. He admits his discouragement. He faces his sorrow. He does not smother his heartache behind praise clichés. It can be difficult to offer any comfort or consolation to those who simply smile and assure us that faith in God has erased their struggle.
Then again, the psalmist doesn’t get sunk in misery. He does offer praise, he retains hope. His horizons are not limited to his immediate painful circumstances. He sees the bigger picture. But note that he sees it not as a substitute for his sorrow but as a companion to it. Discouragement is real but so is hope. Sadness is real but so is joy.
We cannot and should not share all our struggles with all and sundry. Sometimes a mere smiling face is a socially appropriate thing to adopt. But we dare not hide our struggles from everyone and adopt a smiling face as a type of witness to faith. Tears as well as laughter testify to faith.
Assure as many people as you like that you are travelling well because of faith in God. But don’t forget to share with some the occasional heartache that accompanies such faith. Heartache and hope are not enemies, but necessary companions.