May 27 2018: What Do I Do When I Am Down?

A Reflection on Psalms 42–43

Nine times the question “why” rings out in Psalms 42-43. A good time, therefore, to remind ourselves that question are not doubts. So often a person can be heard to say, “I have so many doubts” when, in fact, all they have is what we all have—“so many questions.” And so it will be till get to heaven (where, very likely, we will be so caught up in glory that the answers will no longer seem to matter). Look at the two halves of the refrain (“Why are you downcast, 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” in 42:5, 11 & 43:5): 1) sure about God (the second half); 2) battered by circumstances (the first half). This is a perfect cameo of life on earth. Don’t be afraid to raise questions, just make sure they are believing questions. But sometimes our questions develop a life of their own and take over, and we find ourselves ‘downcast.’ This too can happen to any of us, a common hazard arising because we are not yet in glory. What then? A double remedy lies on the surface of Psalms 42–43. Neither of its components may prove easy, but together they are effective.

First, there is honest prayer. Look at the sequence of Psalm 42:5-6: Verse 5 surely implies that, with God as our hope, we have no need to be downcast; then verse 6 chips in, “my soul is downcast.” What a frank prayer; “I know it’s foolish to be down, but I am! This sort of openness with God runs through the Psalm—that 42:8 calls “a prayer to the God of my life.” Just as his love never falters, so his ear is always open! Think of the middle hours of the night, when sleep flees and anxieties grow a hundred times big. What then? Have you tried, “in the night his song will be with me” (v.8)? The remedial effect of one of the great hymns and songs of praise.

Second, there is our mind. Romans 12:1-2 speaks of being transformed “by the renewal of the mind.” The mind is “renewed” by feeding on new thoughts. If we are only being anxious about our anxieties, worrying over our worries, stewing our problems, we are only nourishing the old mind, the downcast spirit. No, says Psalm 42:4 & 6, I will turn from old memories, “I keep remembering you.” The mind feeding itself on God’s truth, dwelling on the promises of God, recalling his endless mercies and unchanging love, turning its eyes on Jesus—that mind is walking in the pathway of renewal.

So may we be bold and honest with God in our prayers. And may we lift up our hearts with songs of praise in the midst of troubles and turmoils we go through in life. May we not allow ourselves to be dictated by our emotions or circumstances, but rather may our mind be dictated and guided by the Word of God. As we have now come back to the Psalms Book 2 for our daily reading, may the Psalms help us to pray with honesty and to be renewed in our mind.

Taken from Psalms by the Day by Alec Motyer.


This Week’s Bible Reading Schedule:

Monday: Psalm 46 Thursday: Psalm 49
Tuesday: Psalm 47 Friday: Psalm 50
Wednesday: Psalm 48 Saturday: Psalm 51

Bible Column & Reading Plan by Rev. Chang Soo Lee
Mississauga Camps Lead Pastor