Ok, confession time…Do you talk out loud to yourself? Be honest. Have you ever talked to yourself so loudly that someone actually asked, “Who are you talking to?” Maybe it’s something that you are embarrassed by, BUT here is the reality: we all talk to ourselves. It’s true! Each and every day, we replay and think thousands of thoughts. It is estimated that we think anywhere from 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts every day! These thoughts ultimately control the way we live our day to day lives because our actions are a byproduct of our thoughts. This is why it’s vital that in moments of crisis, fear, and anxiety, we run our thoughts through the grid of Scripture and don’t believe everything we think. We must, as it says in Colossians 3:2, Fix our minds on things above, and not earthly things. Pastor Josh addressed this not long ago in his devotional about taking every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5).
A few months ago, while at the Moody Founders Week Conference, one of the conference speakers, Dr. Crawford Lorrits, said this regarding our emotions: “Our emotions are good passengers, but lousy drivers!” So how do we keep our emotions from clouding our spiritual vision and running the show? How can we be sure that we are thinking the way that God wants us to? I believe that we can find some direction from Psalm 42.
In Psalm 42, we find the Psalmist in a rough place emotionally. He’s flat out depressed. In his own words, My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me, ‘Where is your God?‘ Not only is he struggling emotionally, but to add insult to injury, God is being mocked by those around him. Sound familiar? So what does he do? Where does he go with these feelings? He starts to talk to himself! Listen to what he says…
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.
FIRST – He’s being honest with himself and with the Lord. No pretending. He’s downcast and he’s disturbed. Strong language that describes where he is on an emotional level. The lesson for us is an important one: we need to get real, raw, and honest with God about where we’re at. Years ago, Rich Mullins wrote a song that expressed his fears and concerns, but also his hope in God. I will never forget one of the lyrics which was a prayer, “Hold me Jesus, because I’m shaking like a leaf.” I have felt this, and through tears, have prayed these words to God. You can check out the song here if you are interested.
In Scripture, we are never told to ignore how we feel or to pretend that all is well when it isn’t, or to even deny our present reality. No, on the contrary, we are told in 1 Peter 5:7 to “CAST all your cares (all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all) on Him, for He cares about you (with deepest affection and watches over you very carefully).” In Psalm 62:8, the Psalmist tells us to: POUR out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Our Father in heaven understands that things down here on planet earth will get tough, and in those moments He wants us to turn to Him. Are you fearful? Take that fear to the cross. Are you worried that something might happen to you or someone you love? Go to God with those anxious thoughts. Will I lose my job? How will I pay my bills and provide for my family? Will I be able to pay my mortgage? What happens if the stock market crashes? Turn off the news and take those concerns to your Father in Heaven. It’s ok to be honest with God. Remember, He loves you with the deepest affection!
SECOND – We see here in Psalm 42 that there is an important next step. What happens next will determine a lot as we will either go down the road of despair and even anger toward God, or we will find rest for our weary souls. It is the difference between staying stuck or moving forward. It’s the difference of going from fear to faith, from anxiety to hope and peace. So how do we keep our emotions from clouding our spiritual vision and running the show? To do that we must learn to tell ourselves the truth! We must know and preach the Word of the living God to ourselves!
So what are you feeding your mind? Video games? Constant news? Music? Movies? Endless and unlimited time on social media? Listen again to the words of the Psalmist…
This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your Word has given me life.
We can’t recall the Word of God if we haven’t invested in it. What you feed, grows. If we feed our fears and anxieties they will take over and run the show. Are you storing God’s words in your heart because in the pages of Scripture we clearly see the God who we are called to trust. So why should you trust God? Why should we put our hope in Him? Because he has an impeccable track record of being faithful! There are reasons for us to be stressed and anxious for sure. But there are greater reasons for us to trust in the Lord.
Moses – as the Red Sea parted for him and the Israelites (Exodus 14)
Elijah – as it began to rain again after three years of drought (1 Kings 18:41)
King David – as an old man saying that He never saw the righteous forsaken by God (Psalm 37:25)
I close with Paul’s words to the Corinthians, they are for us as well.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”
Stay in the fight, family. God is faithful and can be trusted…PUT YOUR HOPE IN HIM!