Journal PS 100-103 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you! Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!
For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace.
My heart is struck down like grass and has withered; I forget to eat my bread.
Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my flesh….
I lie awake…I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink…
My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass…” excerpts from Ps 102:1-11
Observation: Think following God is all peaches and cream; easy roads ahead? David testifies sometimes not…
Analysis: There is a reason to diligently pursue the Spiritual Disciplines—that is to survive the dumps.
I consider David and the Psalms God’s gift as an example of the Christian Life; not the mission stuff, but the day to day, self-examinations, look in the mirror to see if I am the Faith walking worthy of the Gospel stuff. More than likely, generally what David goes through, I go through—the Ups and the Downs.
I have encountered folks in the current generations in the Church that would be totally dismissive of anyone being anything but “Victorious”. Facts are that the Scriptures don’t demonstrate the daily Christian life as always representing “Victory”; such as, always happy, always positive, always cheerful—those outward pictures of the Christian Life which can be so very false in daily reality.
Look at David: totally transparent. He has ups; he has downs. Dancing in the streets, hiding in caves. Lamenting the current position of his soul; celebrating the Goodness of God despite his soul. This is where we should be.
David: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God…” (Ps 42:11) It is so easy to plummet emotionally, sometimes you don’t even have to have a reason.
What do I do?
- I don’t get into the Word when I am down; I get into the Word when I am NOT down and pack my mind and soul. Prepare for the inevitable future.
- Study and read good, impactful things. I highly recommend John Piper (“A Peculiar Glory” is next up for me) but also guys like RC Sproul to understand the theology about this treasured Salvation. Find and copy Jonathan Edwards “Resolutions” (reflect on them often); Obtain “Valley of Vision” for a personal reflective time. Get a Systematic Theology (recommendation: Wayne Grudem’s “Bible Doctrine”). Piper’s Swan series will give some historical background on Church Fathers.
- Watch the music intake. Music is given by God and has the ability to worm its way into the soul—especially accompanied by lyrics. Even Christian musicians may not measure up well. Read the lyrics without the music; see if the lyrics pass critical muster of being good theology. There are a number of good, solid, theologians singing their hearts out with music and lyric that will feed a soul and be entertaining—but maybe not Christian Top 40.
- Find personal relevance in the Scriptures. “How does this relate to me? Can I identify with it?”
- Confess sin to one another. Confession is not just “good for the soul” like it is cathartic, liberating; it is imperative to kick out pride and welcome humility.
By paying attention to your own soul, not trying to shortcut growth opportunities, brings maturity and peace and prepares for living in Him.
Prayer: Father, please make it so. Increase my desperation for You.