Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
Many times, perhaps many times every day, our feelings are out of sync with the truth and reality that God has revealed to us in His Word. Our hearts, still stained by sin and marred by selfishness and unbelief, are slow to believe what God has spoken and quick to accept our own perception of our situation as more authoritative. The results are manifold: discouragement, depression, bitterness, anger, self-pity, pride, anxiety, fear, and the like. These emotions arise in our hearts when we trust our perception of reality more than we trust God’s perception of reality.
So how do we combat this unbelief that constantly rises up in our hearts? The example of the psalmist here in Psalm 42 and 43 is extraordinarily helpful. Whatever the situation the psalmist find himself in, we can all probably relate to his response: “My tears have been my food day and night.” “My soul is cast down within me.” “I say to God, ‘Why have you forgotten me?'” His heart is bitterly complaining about his trial, and throughout much of the psalm, he has been listening to his own heart’s version of events.
But now, the step that the psalmist takes is exactly the step that we should take. Instead of listening to his heart, he starts speaking to it. “Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why are you in turmoil within me!” Never be hesitant to question yourself; sin blinds us to what is really real, and we are quick to believe a version of events that is simply not true. And then the psalmist goes on to preach to himself: “Hope in God!” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the great British preacher who wrote the classic Spiritual Depression, observes: “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”
Fight the unbelief in your heart by talking to yourself rather than listening to yourself. Remind yourself of your hope, of who God is and what He has done for you. Command your heart, and defy yourself and all others who might come against you: “I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God!”
Dear God, I believe, but help my unbelief. Forgive me for being quick to believe my perceptions but slow to believe Your promises. Bring your Word to bear in my heart; remind me of reality as You have defined it. Holy Spirit, Help me to preach to myself, to remind myself of all You are and all You have done for me. Strengthen my faith, and help me to trust You.
“Every promise God has ever made finds its fulfillment in Jesus.” ~Joni Eareckson Tada
This post is written by Brendan Beale, author of Cross Connections