Summer Daily Devotional - Psalm 42
Talk Yourself Into It
Why are you so downcast O my soul? Put your hope in God (Psalm 42:5 & 11).
Sometimes you find yourself in situations that seem unbearable. Maybe people are talking about you in ways that tear you down. Maybe you’re physically depleted and running on empty. Maybe your friends are abandoning you. Maybe you feel at a complete loss for what to do.
Maybe that whole paragraph describes your 2020. Or even 2021.
Whatever you may be feeling, the Psalmist knows exactly what you’re going through. He’s being taunted by his enemies (vs. 3 & 10). He’s in physical agony (vs. 10). He’s mourning (vs. 3). He’s remembering days gone by when things used to be normal (vs. 4), and he even feels like God Himself has abandoned him (vs. 9).
He’s in such distress that his very soul is wasting away within him.
Have you been there before? Are you there right now?
Taken by itself, this is a really depressing Psalm. However, Psalm 42 and 43 go together. How do I know this? Because the same refrain that happens twice in Psalm 42 is the ending of Psalm 43: “Why are you downcast O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God.”
As with a lot of the Psalms, we’ve been dropped right into the middle of this person’s agony. It’s not like he’s on the other side of a difficulty he went through and now he’s reflecting back on it; he’s not out of it yet and nowhere near the end.
And so he does the only thing he knows to do: he starts talking to himself about what he knows to be true even though he’s not experiencing it.
Why are you so downcast O my soul? Put your hope in God!
Here’s some truth we can learn from this honest conversation with God:
Don’t wait for someone to have to remind you.
Remind yourself today that God is for you. He knows where you are. He knows who you are. He knows the situation you’re facing. He sees into your tomorrow so He knows exactly what you need today. Remind yourself. Even if you can’t recall right now the ways you know He’s been faithful, tell yourself to put your hope in God today.
Be honest with where you’re at.
The Psalmist is gut-level honest with his situation because you can’t get to where you need to be unless you are honest with where you are currently. Pretending never helps. It only extends the agony or pain and prolongs healing. So start with where you are in your conversation with God and allow His Spirit to begin to change your perspective.
Don’t let yourself stay in the fog of doubt.
You must acknowledge where you are, but you can’t stay there. That’s why the Psalmist says (in the next chapter) "Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.” He knows the only way to experience freedom is through God’s truth shedding light on his situation, which will deliver him from his struggle.
So whatever situation you might be in, even if it’s all you can get out of your mouth, call upon God today to be your strength.