I see a man around town from time to time who is always talking to himself. Unfortunately, I believe this man suffers from mental illness, and it’s a strange, sad sight to see him pacing back and forth on the street corner, with an intense look on his face, muttering words under his breath. I’m not sure if he’s talking to himself, or to some imaginary companion, and I don’t know if he hears the other side of the conversation. Either way, it’s an odd sight. But I’ve come to a realization: I want to be more like the street corner man.
The Psalmist was a little bit like street corner man too. In Psalm 42:5 we read, “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.“
Do you notice what’s going on in this verse? The Psalmist is discouraged and feels turmoil within his soul. The difficulties of life are weighing him down, like a great weight upon his chest, depressing his soul and sucking the joy from him. He was down in the dumps. I can relate to this, and I think you can too.
But the Psalmist isn’t content to wallow in his discouragement. He won’t allow his feelings, and fears, and doubts to steal his joy. And so he begins to interrogate his soul. Can you hear him talking out loud to himself? Can you hear him performing his soul interrogation? “Hey Soul, why are you so down? What’s the deal? What are you so discouraged about?”
Notice though that the Psalmist doesn’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out why he feels discouraged. Instead he starts talking to himself, addressing his soul. He begins to speak the truth of God to himself. He says, “Hey Soul, hope in God. Enough of this discouragement. I’m not going to listen to you anymore. We are now going to hope in God, because we will praise Him.” The Psalmist refuses to listen to his discouraging thoughts, and instead speaks truth to himself.
I want to be like the Psalmist. My tendency is to listen to myself far more than I talk to myself. I listen to my discouraging thoughts, and fears, and doubts. What I should be doing is reminding myself of God’s truth. A good dose of truth is the antidote to discouragement.
What’s one area of your life where you feel discouraged? What is one truth about God that you can speak to yourself when you feel discouraged? As you go about your day, ponder these questions, and ask God to help you be like the man on the corner.
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