Read Psalm 43 when life unravels

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Three actions to take when all the joy is gone from life

by RJ Thesman

Although living with joy is something I desire, the fact is life often unravels and affects my joy. Throughout the last five years, I faced long-term unemployment, my mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and personal health issues. None of the positive posters on Facebook helped.

I felt as if I lived in a cartoon where a cat played with a ball of yarn. Within seconds, that yarn lay in curlicue knots as the cat tangled herself in her own noose.

Within my unraveling life, all I could do was stare at the knotted mess. My controlled sphere no longer made sense, and nothing I tried would change the circumstances. How could I soothe my frazzled emotions and deal with my unraveled life? I found action points within Psalm 43.

1. Focus on God instead of the problem.

“Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! For you art the God of my strength; why have you rejected me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Ps. 43:1-2, NAS).

God delivers me from oppression, such as the new level of rejection I face from Mom’s Alzheimer’s. When her memories of me fade, I need someone stronger than I to plead my case and vindicate me. As I focus on God and his strength, I think more positively and take baby steps toward accepting the next phase of Mom’s illness.

2. Focus on the lesson instead of the pain.

“O send out your light and your truth, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling place” (Ps. 43:3, NAS).

God’s light and truth lead me through the unraveling yarns of health issues. Even within pain, he brings me to that place of utter peace, that inner holy of holies where I rest in his strength.

As I stay alert for his light and truth, God whispers the phrase of a song or directs me to a passage of Scripture. When I focus on the lesson rather than the pain, God teaches me more of what I need to know in my faith journey. His beacon of truth points me to some of the richer treasures of faith and trust. As I focus on the lesson God wants to teach me, my pain becomes the secondary focus and a bit easier to bear.

3. Focus on the future instead of the present.

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet again praise him, the help of my countenance and my God” (Ps. 43:5, NAS).
King David reminds me to stay in hope. I think of this important principle as, “Living in the Yet.” To live in the yet, I focus on the future—when this present circumstance wears down, when I work through the grief, when I learn the lesson.

All the unraveling’s of life—these temporary afflictions—eventually end. Some last longer than others and test my perseverance. Some need extra amounts of God’s power-filled grace. Some are blessedly brief. But all trials eventually end. As I live in the yet, I praise God that the end will indeed occur and then hopefully, my faith muscles will be stronger, my trust in him deeper.

No matter what unravels next, I’m grateful for Psalm 43 and determined to live in the yet.

RJ Thesman is an author, editor and certified Christian Lifecoach. She is the author of The Unraveling of Reverend G, a book about Alzheimer’s, dementia and finding hope. Her website is: www.rjthesman.net.

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