The Psalmist is subject to the same kind of ups and downs of life that you and I face. He wrestles with disappointment, depression and despair. John Bunyon’s character in “Pilgrim’s Progress” is captured by the giant named “Despair” who reduces him to miserable depression. The giant leaves a knife, a rope and poison in his cell. He’s tempted to end it all. But he begins to talk to himself about God and God’s promises and finds hope to persevere through his enslavement to despair. The Psalmist talks to himself also. In this verse, he says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God…”

When a terminally ill patient visited his doctor, he was asked, “You know, don’t you, that you won’t live out the year?” Later the patient was heard to say, “that man took away all my hope.” Someone suggested that it might be time to find a new hope. Lewis Smedes wrote, “Is there a hope when hope is taken away? Is there hope when the situation is hopeless? That question leads us to Christian hope, for in the Bible, hope is no longer a passion for the possible. It becomes a passion for the promise.”

A little over a month before he died, the famous atheist Jean-Paul Sartre declared that he so strongly resisted feelings of despair that he would say to himself, “I know I shall die in hope.” Then in profound sadness, he would add, “But hope needs a foundation.” Faith in the eternal God offers a hope that despair cannot diminish. It brings an optimism that pessimism cannot eclipse. It builds a confidence that adversities cannot weaken. It instills a pleasure that pain cannot destroy—faith in the eternal God!

“We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.” (Psalm 39:6-7)