I step onto the trail behind our home early one morning. The grass is still wet from sprinklers, the birds just starting to greet each other for the day, the bullfrogs around the pond sitting like sleepy sentries on the shore. I love the quiet of this time but my mind is loud and crowded with concerns and worries.
I ask questions that I imagine you’re asking too. What’s going to happen? How long will this last? What does the future hold? I don’t know the answers and God seems silent this morning. So I do the only thing I can: take one step forward, then another, and another. I pray as I do—messy, frustrated, confused prayers.
I think 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 NLT) Can you relate to those words too?
I’d not looked at this Psalm in awhile and I became curious about how it ends. I was surprised to find the last verse is exactly the same as the one above, “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).
I expected a neat bow tied around a truth, a restoration of confidence and certainty, a revelation that now everything would be different. But, no, the Psalmist still had the same questions. This is comforting to me right now in a season where so many questions don’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.” 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 a phrase on a piece of paper 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 can 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, 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 example, fellow introvert, former Fixer Upper star, and entrepreneur Joanna Gaines says, “For an introvert like me, being alone for any amount of time recharges me. In the midst of a busy day I’ll sit in my car for a few extra minutes before coming inside just to enjoy a few minutes of rest or silence before jumping into whatever’s next.” 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 complete my route on the trail I, like the Psalmist, still have the same questions. But I feel calmer inside. I remember that even when I don’t know what the future, there is a mighty God who holds me.
I will put my hope in Him.
I will praise Him again.