How often does an unnamed melancholy steal over our souls, leaving us dry and thirsty for something that we can not seem to find that will satisfy? Going through daily motions, we move as through fog, just doing the next task. Even spiritual things that once uplifted and poured life into our souls no longer flow with life-giving water. Have you found yourself in this arid place, if even for a short time?
As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God:
when shall I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:1-2
David did. The Shepherd king of Israel, and the one God calls a man after His own heart, describes the wasteland of melancholy that he found himself in a time or two. Those around him even taunt his faith, asking him, “Where is thy God?” He recalls the days of joy in God’s house, and his former heart of praise. And it begs him to ask the question:
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? Psalm 42:5a
David searches out the cause of his despondency.
”To search out the cause of our sorrow is often the best surgery for grief…The mist of ignorance magnifies the causes of our alarm; a clearer view will make monsters dwindle into trifles.”C H Spurgeon, Treasury of David
Have you considered the reason for your mist? What unnamed thought must be brought to the surface of your heart and set to conscious prayer? A dear friend calls these rogue emotions “the rebels that must be captured.” Once captured, they can be dealt with forthrightly.
David commands his emotions to Hope.
HOPE, verb intransitive–To place confidence in; to trust in with confident expectation of good.
David placed his hope not in himself. He did not buoy himself with uplifting inspirational phrases or by confidence in his own strength. He placed his hope in the unchangeable, faithful God.
“This is the grace that swims, though the waves roar and be troubled. God is unchangeable, and therefore His grace is the ground for unshaken hope.” –Spurgeon
David chooses to praise, to sing, to pray.
…for I shall yet praise him
for the help of his countenance. Psalm 42:5b
Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. Psalm 42:8
God’s faithfulness still holds. His mercies spring anew every morning. His sovereignty will not lose hold of its scepter. His love never fails, and His presence never leaves the believer. Even the unbeliever is delivered from the sin that holds him fast, when such a one calls upon the name of Jesus.
“Praise has the power to lift the soul above all care as if on wings.” Susannah Spurgeon
David repeats the process.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?
hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him,
who is the health of my countenance, and my God. Psalm 42:11
The rebels will rear their ugly head time and time again with persistent demands. They do not quietly surrender after the first battle. We must choose to capture and command them with all the authority of God’s Word as often as they take up arms. Throughout the day, we must school our hearts to thanksgiving and praise. Writing down three things to be thankful for three times a day turns praise into the habit of our days. Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs remind us of His grace throughout our days and into our nights. Unceasing prayer replaces the misty thoughts of melancholy.
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
My heart needed some schooling this week to capture the rebels. I’m praying for you as you capture and command yours!