is saying, “Self, what is wrong with you? Soul, why are you so down in the dumps?” Scriptures like Psalms 42 and 43 remind me that God knows exactly what is going on inside us. God is the master architect of the complicated, confusing and even contradictory constructs that we call our souls. Maybe our souls surprise us—but they don’t surprise God. He isn’t shocked or scandalized by the up-and-down tendencies of our hearts. He isn’t embarrassed just because our feelings get out of hand. He sees the craziness and chaos, and it doesn’t bother him a bit. He knows us
unquestioned, unassailable bastions of individual truth and identity. Question what I feel? No, that would be disingenuous. Unauthentic. I just need to go with what I feel. Be organic and real and unscripted. I’m not being unkind to emotional, feelings-oriented people. I am one, remember? I would be totally in favor of this kind of personal, subjective way of living and acting—if it worked. I would be totally down with this philosophy—if it produced lasting joy, fulfillment and meaning. What I have found instead is that fulfillment, peace, joy and health on the inside are, ironically, often found by doing the exact opposite of what we feel like doing in the moment. Our feelings don’t rule our lives. That is why we must question them. It is helpful, healthy and humbling to admit that maybe what we feel is flat-out wrong.
I AM CONVINCED THAT AN AWARENESS OF GOD’S CARE FOR US IS THE KEY TO EMOTIONAL SANITY. LIFE IS TOO BIG, TOO UNKNOWN AND TOO CONFUSING FOR US TO FIGURE IT OUT ON OUR OWN. better than anyone, and He loves us more than everyone. If God designed the human soul, then it’s only logical that He would know how to fix it when it is out of alignment. Three times David asks the question, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” And each time, he comes up with the same answer. “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Hope in God. It’s a definitive and clarifying statement. It’s a perspective that pushes away the cloudiness, the murky moments, the confusing feelings. Two things stand out to me about this.
DON’T BELIEVE YOUR EMOTIONS David is willing to question his feelings. Why am I feeling this way? This is incredibly important in our culture and society. If we want to be healthy on the inside, we have to question our insides. We have to question our souls. We have to question our feelings. That seems so simple. But we are living in an age where feelings have become the
HOPE IS MORE THAN A FEELING The second thing that stands out is the answer the songwriter gives us: “Hope in God.” It’s a simple statement, but keep the context in mind. The author is lost, confused and hopeless. So he looks at his options, and he comes to this conclusion: Either life is meaningless and my existence doesn’t matter—or God is the only hope I have. When we consider the magnitude and proliferation of pain and suffering on this planet, those are really the only two conclusions we can come to. On one hand, maybe God isn’t real and life is an accident. If that is true, then our lives have no significance beyond the present. But on the other hand, maybe there is a God. Maybe we are here because a creator, an architect, a being bigger than us is actively at work in the universe. If that is true, it stands to reason He would reveal Himself to us. Not only that, but He would be committed to preserving
GO DEEPER In addition to being the lead pastor of The City Church, Judah Smith is a New York Times best-selling author. Here are some our favorites: H O W ’ S YO U R S O U L ?
Smith doesn’t ask his friends, “How are you?” Instead, he gets to the heart with, “How’s your soul?”
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and protecting and loving his creation. When you find youself tumbling down melancholy rabbit holes of discouragement and depression, therefore, you have a choice. Either you believe that nothing matters or put your hope in someone who is bigger than you are—God. I think this mental wrestling match is exactly what is happening in these two psalms. We are witnessing the inner turmoil of someone who is facing his options. And he chooses hope. He chooses to turn to God, and that makes all the difference. I am convinced that an awareness of God’s care for us is the key to emotional sanity. Life is too big, too unknown and too confusing for us to figure it out on our own. God is our God. He is our salvation. Our souls can find their hope in him. JUDAH SMITH is the lead pastor at The City Church in Seattle.
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