When you are feeling down and disheartened, where is your focus? 

When I feel that way, I'm usually focused on me--my troubles, my fears, my pain--and I really can't see anything else--including God. But as long as we stay self-focused, we can't receive any help. Help comes only when we set our eyes, our hearts and our hope on something better.

In Psalm 42, the psalmist speaks to his troubled heart: "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?" 

Then he offers a solution: "Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God" (42:5-6). 

Why does he "hope" in God? Because he has the sure and certain confidence that God is faithful.

When we're down and discouraged, we need to get our focus back on God where it belongs. That's the perfect time to look to Him for our hope and to trust Him to deliver and take care of us. The rest of Psalm 42:6 says, "My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you". 

It's time to remember God who is faithful, good, compassionate, powerful - all the things you need when you're down.

There's a second step included. The first is to look to God and remember who He is and what He can do, but Psalm 42:5 also encourages praise. You see Him as your hope; then you praise Him for that. You remember His faithfulness; then praise Him for that too.

Psalm 20:5 tells us to celebrate: "May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners!"

Raise the flags; hang up the banners or set off fireworks; show everybody that you belong to the God who is your salvation. That's what setting up banners is all about. It's how you tell others about God's faithfulness and draw them in to celebrate with you.

Contributed by Steve Grant