Sleep on This | March 25
Good evening friend!
How is your soul? On Sunday, I challenged you to “keep calm and carry on.” It must be the case that we can actually tell ourselves how we ought to think and feel because the psalms are full of examples of such self-talk. In Psalm 42, for instance, David confesses his fear and anxiety to the Lord. Then, twice in the psalm, the audience changes. He is no longer speaking to the Lord; he is speaking to his own soul.
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.
A book that has been very meaningful to me is “Spiritual Depression-Its Causes and Cures” by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a well-known British preacher of the 20th century. In it, he comments on Psalm 42:
'Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man's treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. "Why art thou cast down, O my soul?" he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, "Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you."'
There is no substitute, in moments of fear or anxiety, for crying out to the Lord, confessing our fear and asking for his Spirit to fill us with peace. But once in a while, if the psalms are to be trusted, we need to give ourselves a good talking-to. In my case, it sounds something like this: “Mark, why are you focusing on that! You know God is faithful. You know that he will bring you through this. Look at all the good things God has poured out upon you. Stop obsessing about something you cannot control…and that is not nearly as big as you are making it out to be.”
Maybe before you sleep tonight, you need to give your soul a good talking-to!
Lord, as I lay me down to sleep, forgive me that I listen to the voices in my head more than I do the promises in your word. Bring those promises to mind; give me the courage to speak words or hope that I do not presently believe in the confidence that you will inhabit the praises of your child and make my praises so. Amen.