No matter how long we’ve been following Jesus, there’s still a restless ache that lives deep within our hearts. Restlessness can cause people to make sudden, life-changing decisions—both good and bad. Psalm 42 offers three possible causes of restlessness.
1. We’re restless because our small taste of God leaves us hungering for more.
Just as a deer is relentless in its quest for the cold water of a stream, the psalmist’s soul is relentless in its thirst for God. We long to taste God’s love and peace, but we settle for cheap and unsatisfying substitutes. Every person must learn that only God can satisfy the deep thirst in each of us.
2. We’re restless because our problems cause us to doubt God’s promises.
In the chaos of life’s problems, we forget God’s promises and wonder if he will really do all he said he would. We may know the right thing to believe in our heads, but our hearts doubt and struggle to accept it.
Forgetfulness is so tragic and so often condemned in the OT because it does not usually represent simple, passive loss of memory; rather, it describes a willful resistance or rejection of memory and a consequent failure to act appropriately.
One effective way to counter the defeating sense of being abandoned by God is to remember the times when God has been present with us – a journal of life moments with God can be a treasure of remem-brances that God has been with us and working through us even though the present may be difficult and God may see impossibly distant.
Another way is to long for and avail ourselves whenever possible of opportunities to stand together with those who are worshipping God. Even if we feel distant or abandoned, the celebration will have the effect of renewing our certainty and hope. One of the roles of the worshipping congregation is to worship when I cannot, to celebrate the resurrection of Christ when I am mourning the death of a loved one or struggling with my own sin.
3. We’re restless because our salvation has not yet been completed.
The salvation Jesus died to give us has not yet been fully applied to our lives. Although Jesus made our salvation sure and certain, our salvation won’t be complete until he returns again at the end of the age.
We live in a time between the ages—between the inauguration of Christ’s kingdom at his birth and its consummation at his Second Coming—so we feel the tension between the “already” and the “not yet.”
We are forgiven, but not sinless. We know the truth but still have doubts and questions. We live in mortal bodies but look to the perfect, immortal bodies God will give us.
As followers of Jesus, we live in “restless contentment”—we are content with the fact that we’re “saved” by grace through faith in Jesus, yet restless because the final chapter has not yet been written.