A Conversation With My Soul (Psalm 42:11)
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. —Psalm 42:11
Me: Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
My Soul: You? You are asking me why I’ve thrown myself into despair? You are asking me why I’ve gone from standing to bowing and from bowing to groveling? You are asking me why I have bought into the lie of discouragement and disappointment? You. You are asking me this?
Me: Yes. Yes I am. O my soul, why are you cast down and in turmoil within me?
My Soul: “Why?” you ask. Why? I’ll tell you why! Have you looked around lately? The wicked flourish and the righteous are marginalized. What was once called evil is now called good and what was once called good is now called evil. Those who walk in the counsel of the wicked, who stand in the ways of sinners, who sit in the seat of scoffers prevail over those who walk in the ways of God. Even among the so-called people of God there is often little distinction between them and the people of the world. Hatred erupts. Jealousy advances. Sarcasm and arrogance flow like rivers from the hearts and lips of many. Backbiting tears. Lust embraces. False spirituality and false philosophies darken the understanding and shadow falls upon the truth.
And that is just looking at others! Have you taken a good look in here lately, inside, into your own heart, your own soul? I am fighting fear, anxiety, cravings, covetousness, the pursuit of material gain as a solace for my own weaknesses. I feel powerless, abandoned, neglected, unloved, and on top of all that, guilty, because I know that none of these is true, but they feel so very, very real.
You want to know why I’ve thrown us to our knees, and cast us in turmoil before our conscience? That’s why. Because if my surroundings aren’t different than my expectations, at least this internal environment in which I live and move and have my being should be different, and at the moment, it is not, and I am broken on account of this.
Me: I see. That is quite a load you carry, O my soul.
O my soul: Yes. Yes it is. Now what do you have to say for us?
Me: Hope in God.
O my soul: Hope in God? Is that all? I pant for God like a deer pants for flowing streams. I thirst for God, for the living God, to come and appear before Him. My tears have been my food day and night. I remember the old days, the former experiences, when we would go with the throngs to the house of God and lead them in worship. I remember the glad shouts and the praise, and I want them back. I want it all back! Is “hope in God” all that you can say?
Me: O dear soul of mine, “hope in God,” is the best to say! By day the Lord commands His steadfast love (which, I might add, never fails). By night His song is with me; it rises as a prayer to the God of my life, my Rock!
O my soul: Oh.
Me: Yes, O my soul, hope in God. Set upon Him your unrelenting confidence in what you do not at this moment see or experience, that He is and ever will be your salvation and your God. Know that yet once again your questions of sorrow and disappointment and despair will turn to songs of worship and praise and adulation.
Soul, remember. Remember Jesus, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despised the shame, and is now seated at right hand of the throne of God. He cast Himself down upon the earth, taking on the form of a servant, and being found in human form became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. He cast Himself upon the cross and took on the penalty of death out of love for the Father and love for us because the joy earned by faithful devotion to the Father’s glory was worth it all.
O my soul, remember. Remember what God has done for you in Jesus Christ His Son. Remember “those he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Remember what Jesus has done for you in love, and hope in God, for you will again praise him, our salvation and our God.
And remember, O my soul, remember the answer to this question: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
O my soul, hope in God.
Have you ever seen a very young child throw himself down on the ground in anger or fatigue and refuse to rise or move? That is the picture of the words “cast down” here. Can you think of ways you’ve cast down your soul when things haven’t gone your way?
Think for a moment. Since God is sovereign over all things, what is there that doesn’t “go His way”? How does the answer to this question encourage us to hope in God?
What does “hope in God” look like in the life of a believer pursuing God’s life in his or her life?