Meditations for Troubled Times
“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.” (Psalm 42:11)
In my early years of college, I worked in a therapeutic community for drug and alcohol addiction with the Department of Corrections. We used to say things like, “It is okay to talk to yourself as long as you don’t answer yourself.” Not sure where this quip came from. Joking around brought a few seconds of relief from the sadness and sorrow that are an ever-present reality among prisoners and those who work with them. The first time I had to handcuff another human being, I couldn’t sleep that night. There is an R. C. Sproul coffee mug that says, “What’s wrong with you people?” This is what I was thinking that night. “What’s wrong with me? What could I have done differently that would have changed his life?” When I transported someone back to prison, I always thought over the entrance should be the quote from Dante’s Inferno, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
Maybe you can relate to such deep despair. Like King David, do you have or continue to have sad thoughts or inner turmoil about some event in life? Do you have a child or spouse who is a covenant breaker? Have you experienced the loss of a job? Has your spouse or child died? Do you have a disease for which there is no cure? Have doctors taken test after test, offering different medicines at each visit, and have no solutions but seem to create more problems? Do you have trouble sleeping thinking about these things? Is your reaction hopelessness?
We see this type of despair in the account of the woman with the issue of blood in Matthew 9:20-21. She said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will get well.” Mark and Dr. Luke’s accounts give us the background story of how, for 12 years, she had spent all of her money going to different doctors, and none of them came up with a cure. Only Jesus could cure her. Sometimes your turmoil will stay with you for months or years; remember it is okay to weep. These seasons of sorrow can lead to spiritual growth if we couple it with change that leads to hope in Christ. Seek counsel from those who believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. Ask them what Scriptural principles of hope they cling to every morning.
Maybe you have never trusted in Jesus for salvation? Are you trying to live the Christian life without having been saved? Have you come to a point in your life that you realize you cannot generate hope no matter how hard you try to be or pretend you are a Christian?
Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 11: 28-29 says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “…the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Wouldn’t we be in good company if we join King David and the woman in Matthew 9 in allowing the Word to discern the thoughts and intentions of our hearts?