I stepped onto the trail behind our home early one morning. The grass was still wet from sprinklers, and the birds were just starting to greet each other for the day; the bullfrogs around the pond were sitting like sleepy sentries on the shore.
Normally, I love the quiet of this time, but my mind was loud and crowded with concerns, worries and questions I imagine you’re asking, too.
What’s going to happen? How long will this last? What does the future hold? I didn’t know the answers, and God seemed silent that morning. So I did the only thing I could: take one step forward, then another and another. I prayed as I stepped — messy, frustrated, confused prayers.
I thought of one of my favorite psalms, one I’d just reread in bed that morning: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:5-6a).
It had been a while since I’d looked at this psalm, and I became curious about how it ends. I was surprised to find the last verse is exactly the same as verses 5-6a: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:11, NLT).
I expected a neat bow tied around a truth, a restoration of confidence and certainty, a revelation that now everything will be different. But no, the psalmist still has the same questions. This was comforting to me in a season where so many questions didn’t seem to have answers. It’s helpful to know that uncertainty doesn’t equal a lack of faith or trust.
What does the psalmist do in the face of unanswered questions? He makes a choice. “I will put my hope in God … I will praise him again” (v. 11c-d, NLT, emphasis added). One of the hardest parts of not knowing what’s ahead is that it makes us feel powerless. But that’s only an illusion. We can still choose our response.
Months ago, on an overwhelming day when the news just seemed to be getting worse, I wrote down a phrase and put it on my desk where I could see it often. It said simply, “God is in control, and I am in charge.”
That is what we need to know when life is uncertain. God is still in control. He has not forgotten us. We have not been abandoned. He is with us, for us, working on our behalf even now. We can trust Him no matter what happens. He has also given us stewardship of our everyday lives — what we do with our energy and emotions, resources and relationships. We are not helpless. We can all ask ourselves, like the psalmist, What will I do today?
As an introvert, I find I need solitude to answer that question, which is why I went to the trail that morning. When life is noisy and the world chaotic, I can’t hear my soul or the whisper of God. We often look at solitude as selfish, but it’s a sacred act of service. It’s what empowers us to keep moving forward, loving well, being brave and making wise choices.
Solitude can be hard to find, so as a life coach and counselor, I recommend people schedule it into their day, even if it’s just a few moments. This can look like putting solitude on your calendar or creating a rhythm that lets you incorporate it into your life. For an introvert like me, being alone is an essential way I can recharge. But all of us, introverts or extroverts, need at least a little solitude in our lives. And the busier we are, the more essential it becomes.
As I completed my route on the trail I, like the psalmist, still had the same questions. But I felt calmer inside. I remembered that, even when I don’t know what the future holds, there is a mighty God who holds me.
I will put my hope in Him.
I will praise Him again.
Lord, thank You for the assurance Your Word gives that, even when we question or doubt, You are in control. Help us to remember to make space in our lives to set aside our busyness so our hearts and minds can connect with You. I thank and praise You for being worthy of hope and praise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Isaiah 30:15b, “In quietness and confidence is your strength.” (NLT)
Psalm 42:2, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (NIV)
Luke 5:16, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (NIV)
Have you ever experienced greater peace and connection with God in a time of solitude? When and where can you intentionally find solitude this week?