Mar 12, 2012

A Troubled Spirit

“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….By day the Lord commands His steadfast love, and at night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock: "Why have You forgotten me?”…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.”     ~Ps 42 5,8-9,11
     This past month has been a rough month for me.  Between visiting the Adams, dealing with the results of my procrastination, and normal day to day struggles, I’ve been what David would have phrased as “weighed down in spirit.” Thoughts about what the future will hold, what the past has wrought, and what the present is requiring have made my emotions like a roller coaster. The way I typically deal with my emotions is by holding them in until a future time when I will be able to let them out. Yet this past week, as my spirit reached its full mark, I was talking with my parents and I was realizing that I wasn’t handling the situation right. In many cases, yes, holding in emotions can be beneficial. But look at what David does. He brings his worries and fears to the Lord and then in a sense encourages himself.
“Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.” (Ps 31:9-10)
I’m sure that at some point in your life, you, too, have struggled with a troubled spirit. I’m sure also that you will struggle again many times in your life. Yet I would caution you not to do a few things. Don’t throw all your troubles in a box at the back of your mind and try and forget about them. That doesn’t solve the problem and only makes it harder because when you’ve filled that box high enough, it will overflow and trouble you ten times more than at first. Also, don’t do the opposite and walk around telling everyone about your troubles.  We need to be wise about who we share our innermost thoughts with.  Some might be unprepared at that time to handle the extra burden and others might be simply untrustworthy. 
Here is what I would advise when you are feeling down, emotional, stressed, or otherwise troubled: First, cry out to the Lord. He is the only one who can give you joy and is your only true rest. Seek Him first above all things and live in obedience. Second, seek the support of one you trust. We are commanded in Scripture to bear one another’s burdens and the support of another can considerably lighten your load. Third, meditate on the Word. The Bible and prayer are two powerful weapons that cannot be over-used and should definitely not be under-used. Last, praise the Lord. When your mind is focused on the Lord, the cares of this world seem as light as a feather.
     One interesting thing I’ve noticed about Psalms, is that it begins with cries to the Lord for help and ends with songs of thanksgiving. What better example do we have than this?
“But I trust in You, O Lord; I say, "You are my God." My times are in Your hand;…Make Your face shine on Your servant; save me in Your steadfast love!…Love the Lord, all you His saints! The Lord preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” (Ps 31:14-15, 23-24)
“Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty firmament! Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him according to His excellent greatness! Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; praise Him with clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” (Ps 150)

Your brother in Christ,

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