Monday, December 13, 2010

Knowing God - Psalm 42:5


Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disquieted within me?
Put your hope in God ...
Psalm 42:5
This verse is a personal pep talk.
We've all had those dark days. We've all had disquieting seasons. Sometimes the depression is dark and real and whelming. Most times, however, we simply need a pep talk ... a reminder ... a good dose of truth.
And most times, the reminder that we really need is to take our eyes off the things of this earth and focusing upward, put our hope in God. He is healing in the midst of brokenness. He is blessing in the midst of discouragement. He is power in the midst of trials.
Most times, we just need to pull away the pall that half-truths and frustrations throw around us ... and remember that God provides wisdom to guide us, love to assure us, and hope to comfort us. 
In Christ's Love,
a coach for Hope College
(and I like to give pep talks)
He stopped just short of 'let go and let God.'

In my experience - putting hope in God leaves you wide open for him to shatter your heart into a million irreparable pieces. Then you are told to place hope in him for healing and comfort. Seems like a vicious, painful cycle to me.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

So often the faith questions come down to: Is God really good? The Congolese Christians (and many others) have a call and response: God is Good! All the time! I think that's the hardest thing in the world to believe. We have no frame of reference for it. We don't know anyone who is good ALL the time. And we don't understand how a good God can allow bad things to happen. It makes no sense.

But this is the one thing the scriptures assure us of over and over. Even Job.....[pause while I skim Job] No, I'm wrong. Job doesn't say a thing about God being good! It says God is just and powerful and mighty and beyond our understanding. Very interesting. I don't know if you want to be reading Job right now, but one thing I have to say for Job, the man was damn honest. When his life was crappy, he said so. No point in denying it. But still God says he was wrong to complain because God's goodness is bigger than our goodness. I know that's really not what you want to hear right now. But maybe....maybe when you're hurting it's easier to focus on God's justice than God's goodness.

Which brings me to the reason I wanted to comment to begin with. This was in a plea letter from my home pastor who is now president of the denomination. I'm sure the idea is not originally his, but I thought it was good: "Together we face this choice: we can get angry _at_ God and despair about anything ever changing, or we can get angry _with_ God and join God to make things right in this broken world."

You and I have both talked about our stubborn natures. I see you using that stubbornness for good lately. Even in this hole you are stubbornly reading the Word, you are stubbornly talking to your pastor, you are stubbornly blogging away. You are doing so much more than I ever do when I'm depressed. So I'd encourage you to stubbornly get angry _with_ God and fight the darkness.

Can we trust in His goodness? I believe we can. But I have not always believed that every minute of every day. I don't have to. I just have to keep being stubborn.


Dec 14, 2010, 1:40:00 AM  
Blogger Chris K said...

When I went on my retreat last September, a phrase often said went like this:
Leader: "God is good ..."
People: "All the time."
Leader: "All the time ..."
People: "God is good."

For a few weeks it was comforting and even brought a smile, but now when I hear it an argument starts in my head.

Dec 14, 2010, 7:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that argument. I've had it too. It may be an argument you can't win right now. It may be an argument you can't engage in right now because your mind is not healthy. As someone we know says, "You can't argue with crazy."

You don't argue or engage with an alcoholic or a drug addict because you're talking to the alcohol or drugs, not the person. In a similar way, you can't argue theology with yourself when you're depressed because you're arguing with the depression, not your rational, spiritual mind.

Maybe I'm wrong and other counselors will tell you that you have to engage the spiritual side of this. I guess at some level you do. But I think you can get bogged down in theological questions that have baffled theologians for centuries. You can't expect to solve them quickly, especially while depressed!

I've found it better to hold on to the simple things I know to be true and try to pull out that way first--even if those things aren't God things! What things are you sure of? You said you don't trust anyone enough. I'm not sure I believe that. I think you do know that people love you. I love you. I'm sorry I've been really really bad at it, when I should have been there for you. But I do love you. I know at least four others who love you very much and are very concerned for you. And your kids love you with all their hearts. They do, even if you don't think so, and no matter what you think of yourself. Can you hold on to these loves? Can you trust us enough to help pull you out?

You don't need to answer that here in public. But think about it.

Can you trust in the way you feel safe at the cabin? How you feel reading a really good book or hearing that one amazing song? Are there times you can think of in the past when you absolutely knew God was there? Other times when you were just having a really good time and you were full of joy? What about your Grandma you loved so much? Hold on to these things. They are good. And there is more good to come. Goodness IS. You can decide later if it's God or not.

Did you ever fly a kite in bed?
Did you ever walk with ten cats on your head?
Did you ever milk this kind of cow?
Well, we can do it. We know how.
If you never did, you should.
These things are fun, and fun is good.

And now good night.
It is time to sleep.
Today is gone. Today was fun.
Tomorrow is another one.
Every day, from here to there,
Funny things are everywhere.

Sorry if that's glib. It's meant to be poignant.

Dec 16, 2010, 2:04:00 AM  

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