Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 7 months ago

For a Despairing Heart

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Psalm 42:11

You may be seated and let's turn to psalm forty two. This morning, Psalm Forty two, let's give our attention to God's word, and I'm going to focus my sermon this morning on the last verse, Verse Eleven. Let's hear the whole song, Psalm Forty two. As a deer pants for flowing streams, so my soul pants, my soul for you, Oh God. My Soul Thirst for God, for the Living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food, day and night, while they say to me all the day long, where is your God? These things I remember as I pour out my soul. How I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the House of God, with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, Oh my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down within me. Therefore, I remember you from the land of Jordan and Herman, from Mountain Tazar. Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls, all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. 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 do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy, as with a deadly wound in my bones? My adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, where is your God? Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again prais him, my salvation and my God. Amen. Was We look back on the year behind us. We have a lot to reflect on, a lot to think about, and I hope that you do some of that and have the opportunity to do some of that. We have a lot to be thankful for, a lot of things that God has blessed us with, but the most important thing that God has given to us over this year and over our whole lives, indeed the whole history of the world, is Christ himself. It's him who is with us, Emmanual, and it's Christ who promise is never to leave us. As we think back on the things that we have received the things that have been helpful and stabilized us and kept us well. Jesus is number one and he will be number one in the future. It's something you can guarantee, something God has promised to us. If you are a Christian, Christ is where you find true peace for your soul. It's not the candy or the music, or the presence or the friends. These things are all lovely and sweet, they are good holiday comforts, but they're not what we settle our souls on. They're not the rock of our salvation. We find our peace in Christ alone. Do you remember what the Angel said when they announced his birth? They said glory to God in the highest heaven and on Earth, peace to those on whom his favor rests. That's at the beginning...

...of it is life. And at the end of his life. Do you remember what Jesus said to his disciples as he was about to leave them, as he was about to die and then rise and ascend into heaven? He said to his disciples and to us as well, peace I leave with you. My peace. I give you not as the world gives. Do I give you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid aid. That's John Fourteen twenty seven. And so we see in the scriptures. We are minded of this fact that it's it's not toys or wrapping paper that quiets our souls and encourages us in the face of trouble. It is Jesus Christ. He is our Lord, he is our Savior, he is our peace. And so as we come to psalm forty two, we are reminded of this, that God is our hope, he is our salvation, he is our God and he comes to us in a world that is hard, really hard. Sometimes. As we look back on the last year, as you perhaps look forward on the future year, as you experience your life right now, there are difficult things and I know that some of you struggle and great ways. I want to speak to you today. I want to speak to those of you who find yourselves in a difficult place or perhaps will in the coming year, those of you who, for one reason another, feel as though a dark cloud has filled your mind or your heart, the kind of shadow hanging over you. Maybe it's a partial shadow and maybe it's feels as black as night. This picture of a cloud is a picture that has stuck with me among a number of other thoughts, I'd like to share to you day from a collection of sermons that I've been reading from the Puritan William Bridge. He was one of the members of the Westminster Assembly, Godly Man who wrote a nice collection of sermons that's banner of truth put together, called a lifting up for the downcast, and it's there that bridge compares the trouble of the Christian's heart to that of a dark cloud. Do you know what I mean by a dark cloud? A kind of ominous foreboding, a dread and anxiety that swallows, oh swallows up hope, a kind of dark cloud where it feels like it's nighttime. The day has gone away on the sun, which brings joy and gladness and health and life, it's gone and it's just dark and scary. If you feel that dark cloud in your life, perhaps you can name it. Maybe for you it's called grades, maybe it's called guilt, maybe it's called failure or sickness or divorce or grief, or perhaps you don't know what to name it. You just find yourself discouraged, agitated, anxious, spinning and you're not sure why. You can't figure out what the winds are that rock the boat of your soul. And then there are some of you who feel ashamed to say the name of that dark cloud out loud because you know that the thing you dread is something that you ought to love, like church or the Bible or even God himself. Maybe you feel like David, God's Good King and faithful servant, who was brave and holy when he wrote these lines in Psalm seventy seven three. When I...

...remember God, I Moan, when I meditate, my spirit faints, or in the verse before that, when he says my soul refuses to be comforted. We hear about Dad God's anguish, even over meditation, even over being in worship, even over God himself. We don't find happiness, we don't rejoice in these awful feelings that he's facing. But perhaps you can identify with them. Perhaps you know what it feels like to dread opening the Bible or going to church or even praying and talking to God. David, God's holy word describes these very feelings. He also describes this dark place of the soul, and Psalm two eleven are verse. Today. There's twice in this psalm he describes his soul as being cast down, as being in turmoil. When he says cast down, the Hebrew means something like dissolving, like melting away. His soul is no longer solid. It can't hold anything, it can't hold weight. He feels like he's becoming a nothing. But he's not going quietly into the night. He says he's in turmoil. It's a word that's used for noisy crowds, crashing waves, roaring animals, agitation, even moaning. The word is him and it even sounds like moaning or crying. Hi Mahi, Mahime. It's a sad word. It means that has that kind of agitation and Moan to it. Of course I know what that feels like, and you do to all of us, at some point or another, knows what it feels like to be in that dark place. And you know what Jesus felt it too. As a man, in the deepest part of his soul, Jesus felt and knew that dark cloud. He knew what it felt like to have his soul cast down, his soul in turmoil. We have his words. He says, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? That's what Jesus says. If Jesus can feel abandoned by God. Surely his servants might feel this way from time to time and to one degree or another. But this changing that happens in our life, these this sense that these dark clouds roll and roll out, there's something that's very encouraging about that, a reality that clues us into an encouragement and it points because it points us to the fact the feelings can change. And that's what David is after here in our psalm. He recognizes what is going on inside his heart, he sees where he's at and he seeks to move to some better place. He says to himself, he's self talk right, he's talking to himself, and he says, why are you cast down on my soul? Why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. This teaches us something. It teaches us that while anxiety and discouragement are experienced by God's children, his most beloved children, it's not the end of the story. You may be experiencing a dark cloud, but it is just a cloud. The Sun may be covered up, it may be as dark as night, but it is not night. The Sun, though covered for a time, is still...

...there, still shining away, and as soon as the cloud will move, the reins will be the rays of the Sun will be felt again, because a cloud is just a cloud. They move, they change. The God and his love does not. But in the meantime, when you're feeling those that dark cloud, when you're feeling this casting down and turmoil in your soul, what can you do? What can you do? Well, we can learn, I think, a few things from David's example. The first thing is that we ought to take time to notice how we're feeling. David can address what's going on in his soul because he's paying attention to it. He knows what's going on in his heart. He can name and he can describe the state of his soul, his emotions. Many of us cannot. Frankly, we have a very limited vocabulary to describe how we're feeling. Mad, sad, glad and, I don't know, something else. These big, big humongs, categories the capture so many things. I heard an interview this week with the popular sociologist Bern a brown. She recently wrote a book called the Atlas of the heart, which she names eighty seven different emotions. How many emotions do you think there are? How many can you name? Now? There's no one answer to this. She hasn't figured it all out. But the point is that it's difficult to deal with a heart if you don't know what's going on inside, if you don't have language and vocabulary to describe it. Perhaps you remember, or you listen to that old show. Suppose they do reruns now. Car Talk Right, right, okay, and and sometimes they joke right about the the warning lights that come on. You just put a piece of black tape over it right on your dashboard. That's how we, some of us, deal with our emotions. We just put a piece of black papers. I don't have to worry about that anymore. But the light, the warning lights, still on right, they're still telling you something, and it doesn't turn out well when you ignore the dashboard, when you're getting information. David doesn't ignore how he's feeling. He doesn't just wipe it away or pretend it's not there. We ought to train ourselves to be honest and specific as much as we can, because the better we get it ignosing, the better we get a curing helps to know what's going on. So we know what to do. David knows what's going on, he knows that his soul is cast down, he knows that his soul is in turmoil and he speaks truthfully and honestly about it. The second thing I think we can learn from David and this holy scriptures here is that whenever we can, we ought to nip discouragement in the bud. Naming is good, but it's not enough, and one of the best things you can do is to not let your worries and your fears and a downcast soul go unchecked. I know this is hard, but it's still important to say. When you see a fly in your house, do you wait for a full on plague before you finally shut the door? No, you see a fly to your house, you go somebody shot that are or you go shut the door. And so also, with the buzzing of anxiety in us, the gnawing of despair,...

...when you see trouble in your heart, deal with it right away. NIP IT in the bud. Don't let discouragement and worries and troubles grow and grow and grow. And you do that by talking to yourself from the truth of God's word. You set your heart on a different path. You say, Hey, soul, why are you so cast down? Why are you in turmoil? Hoping God, hoping God. And if you don't do that, you'll find, as I have found, that worrying will wear you out, and it's kind of foolish to if I'm honest about it. What does Jesus say in Matthew Six, twenty and seventy? Says which of you, by being anxious, can add a single hour to his lifespan? Being anxious doesn't give us any benefit. If you worry for one hour, let's say, do you gain an hour? No, you lose one. That's what Jesus says. And you know what, brothers the sisters, that includes being anxious about being anxious. Do you know what I mean? Think about it. Will worrying about worrying suddenly make you not worry? No, you're just entering more into it. Sometimes the only way to stop a bear is to shoot it, but most of the time you just don't feed it. Most of the time you don't feed the bears, you don't give them the ant, the the food that they need. And our anxieties are like that. When we feed our anxieties, especially with more anxiety. We get all tied up. William Bridge, who I mentioned earlier, he uses this example. He says, as the bird in the net, the more it strives, the more it is entangled. So also with you. Are you sorrowful? Leave it to God, and that's what David does here. Notice what his plan is for dealing with his troubled heart, his very, very troubled art. His plan is really simple. He says to himself, hope in God. Notice what David's plan is not. David's plan is not to figure out how to feel better and then hope in God. It's just hope in God. David's plan isn't a hope in God for a little bit, see if it works and he feels better, and then hoping God some more. It's just hopeing God. David's plan isn't too hope in God for a little bit, see if it works and then to try something else. It's just hopeing God. Bridge, William Bridge, suggests a pair of prayer, which all pray of pair of phrase. Whether I'm he's, this is the prayer. Okay, whether I'm forever in this bad state or not, it's none of my business. Lord simply, let me serve you. That's the only thing I want. Let me see you as you please and when you please. I know that in your time you will answer and I shall praise you. That's a prayer that doesn't worry. That's a prayer that's recognizes the anxiety in the worries in our hearts and just says, there it is, I'm going to hope in God, no matter what happens, even if the anxiety stays, even if the worrying stays, we just simply choose to hope in God and put our hope in that. This really is the best antidote for a troubled soul, a soul in turmoil, soil, a soul melting away and being cast down. And the final thing I'll say this morning is this. We...

...also learn from this passage that true peace comes only from the true God. It will do you no good to put your hope in a god of your imagination or in yourself or are most certainly, in your circumstances. There is such a thing as false peace and many, many people attain it. They get it, they find it false peace. That is so, how do you know if the peace you've found is false or at best temporary. Well, you know it this way because you found it apart from God. You found it in yourself or in someone else or in some circumstance. Imagine your hungry. We find, let's say, an apple on the ground. Hooray, you found an apple. This happened to me once, by the way. We do all that. Were walking, we were hungry and there are some bananas and we had the bananas and they were good. That's those great right. You are so how your hunger is satisfied, but it only lasts for a moment, right. Soon you're hungry again. What you need to find is an apple tree and a whole garden around it, and then you build your house next to it. That's what we need from God. What I'm saying is that the only lasting source of peace is our God, who is everlasting, and God tells us in his word how it is we can enjoy that peace. We have it, he says, when we trust in Jesus. We have it when we trust in him to speak peace in our lives as a prophet. We have it in Jesus when we trust him to forgive our sins. As a priest and reconcile us to God, and we have peace in Jesus when we trust him to defend our enemies, both the internal ones and the external ones. As Prophet, as priest, as King we trust Jesus. We hope in God and in each and every single one of these points, and a thousand under each of those categories. Jesus gives us his peace. He offers US himself as the full and complete and everlasting solution to every problem, every condition, every trouble that we find ourselves in. Jesus, the Bible says, it's like a second Adam, but instead of getting US kicked out of the garden and losing access to the tree of life, he secures the way to heaven itself, and the tree of life is never to be lost again, as the Apostle Paul says in Romans five. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God. The peace of Christ given to his saints is objective. It's his promise, Jesus says. This is what he says. He says, come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. My Yoke is easy and my burden is light. Do not doubt that truth. Jesus said it, he died for it, he came into the world form it, angels proclaimed it and he said as I began with and his Jesus ended with my peace. I lad with you, not as the world gives, but my peace I leave with you. Don't let your hearts be troubled. So don't doubt him, even...

...when you don't sense that peace for the time being. Don't doubt him because, like The Sun, Jesus Christ is shining and working even when you don't see him. The clouds, they come and go, the conditions of life they change, but God does not, and his promise is sure. So don't put your faith in the circumstances of your life, don't put your faith in your feelings, but put your faith in God, hope in him and in him alone. Tell your soul what to do when it's feeling down. Tell your soul hope in God, for God has conquered sin and death and Satan himself for you. God calls you his friend and that doesn't change. He is your praise, he is your salvation and no little cloud is going to stop him from shining down on you. So let no little cloud stop you from believing in him. Let's pray.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (621)