Talking to yourself

Have you ever talked to yourself?

It might sound like a strange question, but unless the psalmist in Psalm 42 was going crazy, he must have been onto something.

He spends the first 4 verses of Psalm 42 “pouring out his soul,” his complaint, his tiredness, his fears. And then, instead of being talked into deeper darkness by those fears, he sits them down for a chat: “Listen up – let me talk to you.”

So he begins questioning the way his heart rages, the way his hope has despaired, the way he’s lost sight of the God he once trusted. “Why are you in despair, oh my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” (vs. 5, 11). His soul is nearly crushed…but verse 5 takes a surprising detour. “Therefore, I remember You” (vs. 6).

He remembers who God is – “the living God,” “my salvation,” “the God of my life,” “my rock” (vs. 2, 5, 9, 11). He remembers what he believes, deep in his gut, truer than his truest feeling, that God will do – He’ll command His steady love to be with me, place His song in my heart at darkest night, overcome me like a waterfall. And despite all evidence on the contrary, he has faith that his soul’s black night will end in praise. “Hope in God; for I will praise Him again” (vs. 5, 11).

I’ve realized that when I feel overwhelmed, it’s usually because I’m listening to my fears instead of talking to them. But when the psalmist’s hope failed, he followed a piece of advice I once heard: “When your hope despairs, teach your despair to hope.” He commanded himself: do not forget your never-failing God.

If you need a few words to borrow as you teach your despair to hope, there’s a song I’ve loved lately called “Take Courage” by Bethel…and when fear takes root today, would you let these words, and the words of Psalm 42, do the talking: “Take courage, my heart; stay steadfast my soul. Hold onto your hope as your triumph unfolds; He’s never failing.”