Going into Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race, the Pure Michigan 400, there were 6 drivers fighting it out for, basically, the one remaining spot in NASCAR’s version of the playoffs—the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Hugely successful drivers like Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, and Carl Edwards are in the mix, and the fact is that the only way to secure your place in the Chase is by winning. Never has it mattered more—and never has it been harder. The so-called “car of tomorrow” that NASCAR adopted several years ago has evened out the equipment and the soft economy has leveled out the financial resources available to the different teams. With competition getting tighter and the stakes getting higher, the outcome may come down to who makes a mistake—and who doesn’t. Desperate times can create situations we would never otherwise consider, and the desperation of these drivers should make for pretty fascinating racing over the next few weeks. David experienced his own season of desperation as he fled for his life from his son, Absalom, who sought to destroy his father and take the throne from him. Desperate times, indeed. Many Bible teachers believe that it is in this context, in the wilderness of his flight, that David responded by crying out to his God:

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, While they continually say to me, “Where is your God?” When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast. Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. (Psalm 42:1-5)

You can certainly hear the desperation in the singer’s voice. Thirsty for God, broken by weeping, and questioned about the absence of his God, David responds with confidence. Though God may appear to be absent, He is fully engaged—providing the psalmist with both help and hope. In fact, it is the presence of God that can allow the psalmist to worship even in times of desperation. Centuries later, Paul would describe this remarkable spirit as the “peace that surpasses understanding” (Phil.4:7). Praise and peace in desperate times? It is absolutely available to us, because our God is present and hears our cries.   Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain