Psalm 42:5-8 (NLT)

“Why am I discouraged?  Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you—even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar. I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.

Ever had one of those days where you just could not shift your mood . . . at all? You try to overcome the doldrums, but your heart is so very discouraged. Munching on chocolate, binge watching Net Flix, or pulling the covers over your head will not do, either.

That’s how the Psalmist felt. And, I might add, he got very poetic about it. Maybe even went on a hike up a mountain, comparing his emotions to being drowned in surging tides . . . his picturesque imagery . . . you can feel his grief and lament, can’t you? He probably even plucked a few harp strings. As a songwriter, I have felt these moments. Music consoles the soul, but truly, it is not until we come and worship God and read His word that we find refuge and comfort that we desperately need. And that is just what David did. But he also had a clear strategy that we can follow.

If we follow David’s lead, he:

  1. Questioned his emotions, not God. (Why am I downcast and bummed out?)
  2. He admitted his feelings. He did not deny them. (Now I am discouraged.)
  3. He CHOSE to hope in God, not circumstances or anything in this world. (I will put my hope in God.)
  4. He CHOSE to remember God in the moment. (BUT I will remember you .  . .)
  5. He let himself feel the pain and described it vividly, but that was not the end of the story. (I hear the tumult  of the raging seas, BUT each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.“)

Sure, our flesh does not feel like it. We find it difficult to push against the wave of discouragement, but it is when we offer a sacrifice of praise – worshiping when we don’t feel like it (our feelings betray us, after all), that we open the door of escape out of our emotional misery. And as we dive into God’s word, we renew our mind with truth and dispel the cloudy mindset.

So often the discouragement we feel is persistent, though. A stronghold that we feel we cannot break free from. What then? The Psalmist is as real as it gets, friends. He admits that it was not a quick bout with depression. He repeats in 42:11 and Psalm 43:5 the same prayer to God that he spoke in Psalm 42:5.

This repetition gives us hope, friends. We are not alone in our battle with discouragement. We are not isolated in that we will have to persevere to debunk being bummed. Like David, we will have to fight. And when we don’t feel we can fight, we can enter the presence of God and ask for His help.

Don’t be deceived. We can choose hope and joy in and through Christ, whether we feel it or not. We can set our will and praise Him. Yes, even on the terrible, horrible, no good, bummer kind of day.

David persevered. David chose God over his emotions. David sang. He prayed. He sought God as his refuge. We can, too. Just because we feel sad doesn’t mean we have to stay there.

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