Awake My Soul & Sing
Psalm 42 has been especially precious to me this year:
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God… 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. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you…”
If you know me, you know that I am what you’d call a “feeler”. I have deep emotions about everything, and often am processing verbally and internally every single one of those emotions! The self-awareness that comes with that is at times a blessing, and then other times it is a rut that I fall into.
Why am I heavy hearted? Why do I feel like crying at the drop of a hat? Am I not praying enough, reading the Word enough? Am I a failure? Am I missing it? That would be just a small sampling of what goes on in my head and heart on hard days. It’s what Puritan preachers called “self-talk”.
It isn’t a sign of anything wrong per se for you or I to have those types of days. I don’t know any honest Christian who has been spared a “desert” season or hasn't at times felt disheartened. The reality is that we live in a fallen world. We are carrying around our broken frames. We can mentally accept that – but then, to feel it— for it to not go away in an instant, but remain, is more of a challenge. What do you do when you’re in the midst of loneliness, suffering, discouragement, loss, AND you are pursuing the heart of God through prayer, study of His word, and biblical community? It isn’t as simple of an answer as it would seem.
That’s when Psalm 42 becomes precious; when the jewel that it is sparkles under the cold, hard surface of everything else. To mine that jewel means to take hold of the truth the Psalmist did:
· Stop listening to your heart, and instead speak to it
· Remind your soul of His character
· Remind your soul of the hope that seasons change (“for I shall again praise you… therefore I remember you…”)
· Pour out your heart to God
· Continue to hunger and thirst
One night after I came downstairs from tucking our girls in, I sat down with a guitar and started to sing this chorus. I had been meditating on this psalm, as well as being freshly reminded by Zechariah 4:1 and Ephesians 5:14 that there is an awakeness to worship. There is a constant fight to not be lulled to sleep by our present circumstances or our own weary hearts.
And here is His promise to us in that fight: He responds. Psalm 18, 42, and 126, Lamentations 3:19-33, and Isaiah 40:28-31 are all great places to start. But if you pay attention, you’ll see it everywhere in Scripture… and you’ll begin to see the truth of it everywhere in your own life.
Worship is its sweetest (and maybe its truest) when our voices and souls aren’t bolstered by feelings, but by truth.
“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” (Hebrews 13:15)
Sometimes it feels like a sacrifice—or at least, a huge risk—to set our hopes on something and Someone we can’t see, hear, or feel in the moment. But let us be encouraged in knowing every seed of sorrow that falls to the ground; every day of picking up our cross, whatever the weight, and following Him; it is storing something up. It’s producing something. When we awake to the truth that He is worthy of worship in every season, Christ shines… and He shines on us. May He give us the grace to believe that!
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:14