October 1, 2019

"The Downcast Soul"  Psalm 42:11

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

I can so relate to the heart of the Psalmist as revealed in Psalm 42. 

This week my soul has been downcast; disturbed.  Nothing relative to my life has caused this. It is the developments in the lives of folks whom I dearly love and care for. 

I was told this week of one family where a parent has just been diagnosed with a threatening disease; another where a seasoned child of God has been injured and in severe pain, and another where one of our church members lost a dear loved one at the age of 28 with two surviving children.  

As a Pastor my heart aches for each and every one of these.  And the many more who are trying to navigate the troubled waters of life in a wide variety of ways.

Where does one go when their soul is downcast and their spirit disturbed?

Well about 15 years ago I started going to the Psalms.  Having almost blown up my own life with a series of wrong and misguided decisions, I found my marriage hurting, my children hurting, my friends confused, and my soul bleeding shame and remorse.  It was downcast (the meaning is to be despairing, dejected).

But in that sea of confusion, shame and remorse, one place I found hope was in the Psalms.  And Psalm 42 was one of the most important to me. 

The Psalmist was a downcast man.  Despairing for many reasons; among them attacks from enemies, rejection by those not of his faith, the object of ridicule and scorn, and possibly consequences of his own sin.  He is looking for a reason to not be downcast, to have a hope that there is a future not filled with despair, or at least to experience the nearness and presence of God.  Ah, that is the ultimate goal of his lament; his prayer.

And among the things he ponders is the faithfulness of God in his past.  The faithfulness of God to those who love him.  In verse 5 he says that even though his heart and soul is in despair, he will remember God and his past faithfulness.

The psalmist is here recalling mighty deeds of God, the milestones of God’s intervening redemption in Israel’s history. In his history; places and times where God came through for his people big time.

And he allows that remembering to fuel his trust in his God. That God will fulfill His promise to love the Psalmist, to watch over the Psalmist, to never leave or abandon the Psalmist, to give the Psalmist all he needs to weather that which has caused his despair.

When God allows affliction, it is important to remember his historic faithfulness.

When you are stuck, deep, despondent, or in despair, think back to what God has delivered you from in difficult times past. Remember how he has never really failed you. In fact, remember your way all the way back to Mount Calvary and the empty tomb. Remembering God’s historic faithfulness is the first step in enjoying his present faithfulness to you, even if you don’t feel it.

There is much more Psalm 42 can teach us but for now, leave it with this:

One of the ways we fall into despair is allowing the threatening circumstances to have us forget God and his promises. And by forgetting, by tuning out his voice, switching channels, and listening to other voices and the roar of our circumstances, we fall into despair.

But when you actually remember Him, Who He Is, and His promises, you actually change. You reverse course and open up your soul and your heart to Him; and as He is remembered once again the downcast soul begins to change and flee the darkness and run into the light of His hope and His strength. "

Pastor Bill Moore

P.S. In the future, check back with this page.  We will be posting random thoughts that at times will encourage, at times challenge, at times inspire, and at times just make us think a little deeper.  See you soon!

Last Published: October 10, 2019 12:19 PM
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