Reading: Psalm 42
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.
“What did you say?” “Sorry, nothing. I was talking to myself.”
So go many conversations in my household. What about in yours? Do you talk to yourself? I heard someone say once that talking to yourself was a sign of genius, so take that for what you will.
You know, Martin Luther, he used to say that we need to preach the gospel to ourselves first, and daily. It’s a strange thing to hear someone say. Until you start to think about what we’re really like as people.
Fickle and shifting. That’s the way I would describe us. And particularly in this culture. We are ruled by our emotions, told to follow our heart’s every desire. We’re coached to search out the deepest yearnings we have and then we’re told when we find them that that’s really who we are. But if you’ve ever tried that project, you know it ends up with pain and disappointment as often as it ends up in fulfillment; and the fulfillment you do get doesn’t really last.
As it turns out, our desires and our emotions are not very stable at all. Even though they are some of the most powerful forces in our lives, they aren’t always reliable as markers for what’s right and wrong, good and bad, true and false. In fact, they are a chief culprit in what Paul calls “the flesh.” It’s not that emotions are bad or that our bodies are something to escape. It’s only that we aren’t integrated as human beings; we’re fractured by the Fall. That means that the desires of the flesh are often out of accord with God’s will.
And so, we have to learn to ask, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?” We have to learn to say, “Hope in God!” We have to preach the gospel to ourselves to remind us what’s true and right and good…even when we don’t feel like it.
Father, for us who are too often ruled and overruled by our emotions—teach us to speak the truth of your word into our hearts. And by your Spirit bind those words to our very souls so that we would find that our hope in you is greater than the strength of our despair and the pull of our temptations.