Leslie Basham: People may think you’re kind of strange, but here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with some good advice.
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Talk to yourself. Tell yourself the truth. God is sovereign. God is wise. He doesn’t make mistakes. He’s not going to bring anything into my life except that which would be for my ultimate good. Keep counseling your heart according to the Word of God.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of The Quiet Place, for Thursday, April 11, 2019.
This month we’re tackling some tough issues here on Revive Our Hearts. Nancy’s continuing in this week’s series, “Dealing with Depression and Doubt.”
Nancy: Usually if we hear that somebody is talking to herself, we think there’s something wrong. Do you talk to yourself? Some of you obviously do. I have to confess, I do sometimes, too. But we’re going to see in the Scripture today that there’s actually a time when it’s really the right thing to do to talk to yourself.
We’ve been looking this week at Psalm 42 and 43. We’ve seen the Psalmist in a desperate, depressed, doubting, distressing, drowning circumstance. That’s a lot of D’s. It was really just a tough time in his life, and he felt just overwhelmed by the circumstances of life. We saw yesterday that in the midst of his distress, he makes a choice to talk to God, to talk first to God.
We saw that he tells God his problems, that he asks God his questions, and he asks God to restore intimate union and fellowship with God. He’s saying, “That is my greatest goal, not to get my problems solved. Lord, if I have to walk through this, I want to at least come out knowing You in a way that I might not otherwise have done.”
Now I want us to see today that not only does the Psalmist talk to God, but he talks to himself. He counsels his own heart according to what he knows is true, even in a time when his emotions are screaming out, “It can’t be true!”
So we’ve seen this week that there’s a chorus that’s repeated three times in this passage—verse 5 of chapter 42, verse 11, and then the last verse, verse 5 of chapter 43 as well. Let me read that chorus, and you’ll see here that he actually talks to himself; he counsels his heart.
He says in verse 5, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?” Why are you depressed? That’s the cast down, the bowed down. “Why are you disquieted?” That word we said earlier this week was “tumultuated.” “Why are you fretting and frantic and doubting? Why?” He asks himself this question.
Then he tells himself; he counsels himself. He says, “Hope in God.” He’s not telling somebody else this. Now the time will come when he can tell somebody else, but he’s telling himself, “Soul, hope in God. Yes, I know it doesn’t seem like there’s any hope. Yes, I know the circumstances are overwhelming. Yes, there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight for these problems. Yes, I know there’s no one around here to cheer you up and encourage you. You feel very alone. Nonetheless, hope in God.” That’s how he counsels himself. Then he says, “For I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance” (v. 5).
Verse 11, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him. The help of my countenance and my God.” And then a third time, verse 5 of chapter 43, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God. For I shall yet praise Him. The help of my countenance and my God.”
Now perhaps you’re wondering, as I have as I’ve meditated on this passage, why does he say virtually the same thing three times? You know why? Because he needs it again and again and again!
You know what? He’s not the only one who needs it again and again and again. Don’t you find sometimes you have to not only talk to yourself and counsel your heart, but you have to keep doing it? I have found numerous times in my life that I have to just keep going back and telling my heart what I know is true.
Some of you have heard me share about the first year when we launched Revive Our Hearts. I didn’t know at the time, prior to that year, when we made the schedule for that year, we didn’t know we were going to be starting a daily radio program. So we already had multiple conferences booked. We had a full year scheduled. I was writing books, and the year was full.
Then we added radio—daily radio. We recorded in that first year, I think, 320 programs, and I hardly knew how to turn my radio on, much less how to do radio. In the midst of that year, for about fifteen months, actually, I felt constantly overwhelmed. I felt, most of the time, like I was in this huge ocean with a tsunami—just a tidal wave coming over me again and again and again. I just, for months, felt like I could hardly breathe.
Yet I knew that God had called us into this. I knew I was there by God’s appointing. I had no doubt. Really not for a moment did I doubt that God is the One who had led me into this. But I honestly had many moments when I did not think I would live to tell about it. I didn’t think I could survive this. I mean, it was just overwhelming, and I found myself having repeatedly to counsel my heart according to the truth of God’s Word—to go back to the things that I know to be true: about God, about His calling, about His grace. His grace is sufficient for you. His grace is sufficient for me.
I just had to keep counseling my heart. I would go back to the promises of God, to the Word of God over and over and over again. It’s during this time that I finished writing the book Lies Women Believe. If you’ve read that book, you know that the last chapter is just a list of truths that we need to remember, that counter the lies.
We put those truths on a little bookmark, and I found myself needing to go back repeatedly to just read those truths out loud. God will not lead me anywhere that He will not supply grace to enable me.
I would just read those truths—read them out loud, counseling my heart according to God’s Word, saying to my heart, “Heart, why are you discouraged? Why are you overwhelmed? Hope in God! Don’t look at the storm around you. Don’t look at the circumstances.” I’m telling you, I could counsel my heart that way first thing in the morning in my quiet time and before 10:00 in the morning I was having to counsel my heart again—again and again and again.
The enemy uses deception. He uses storms. He uses distress to overwhelm us, and some of you are living with real life circumstances and situations that are not going away. Mine, the most distressing part of that was about fifteen months long, and then God started to lift the cloud, and I started to see some of the hope and started to feel some of the hope.
But some of you are living in a marriage or with a child with a physical disability or in a financial situation—it’s not going away in fifteen months. You’re going to be living with that situation maybe for a long time to come. You’ve got to keep counseling your heart according to the Word of God.
Talk to yourself. Tell yourself the truth. Tell yourself what you know to be true:
- God is sovereign.
- God is wise.
- God doesn’t make mistakes.
- God loves me.
- God’s not going to bring anything into my life except that which would be for my ultimate good.
Keep counseling your heart according to the Word of God. Tell your heart, “Hope in God.”
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in commenting on this passage (a great Bible teacher of past generation) says,
We must talk to ourselves instead of allowing “ourselves” to talk to us! . . . You must say to your soul, “Why art thou cast down”—what business have you to be disquieted? You must . . . exhort yourself, and say to yourself: “Hope thou in God”—instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, who God is, and what God is, and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do.
Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.”
As I was meditating on this passage this morning, “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance,” (Ps. 42:5) my thoughts went to how many other things we look to for hope and for help and how prone we are to look to temporary or earthly solutions to do what may be a Band-Aid but in the long run are not really going to be our deliverance.
Hope in your friends. Hope in your husband. Hope in your health. Hope in Prozac, for I shall yet be glad for the help of my psychotherapist. I mean, isn’t that the way a lot of us, as women, are living today? I don’t mean to mock anybody or to make fun of anyone. I’m just saying, ultimately, if your hope is in anything or anyone other than God Himself, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
It doesn’t mean friends are wrong. It doesn’t mean that there may not be a situation in life where some medication might help deal with some physical symptoms. I’ll tell you these issues the Psalmist is dealing with in this passage, issues of doubt and depression and anxiety, ultimately these are issues of the spirit. There is no friend, there is no mate, there is no circumstance, there is no medication, there is no counselor on this earth who can be for you and do for you what God wants to do.
Now God gives us gifts and means of grace and means of encouragement and help, so don’t despise those if those are part of the process God brings into your life, but if your hope is in those things, you’re going to end up hopeless. Those things may make you feel better. I mean, shopping can do it. Chocolate can do it. A lot of things we can hope in may give you a temporary lift. They may temporarily alleviate some physical symptoms or some emotional symptoms, but in the deepest part of your spirit, if your hope is not in God, then you will not be helped. His countenance, His face, is what is your ultimate hope and help.
Now I want us to see in this passage something else that the Psalmist does, which is really crucial to living the Christian life. Not only did he need it, but you and I need it every single day. He counters sight—that is what he can see, what he feels to be true, what looks true—he counters sight with faith.
His senses tell him one thing. His sight tells him one thing. The apparent circumstances tell him one thing, and if he believes what his sight and his senses tell him, he’s going to live an overwhelmed life. So he counters sight with faith. You have this running dialog, this running conversation between sight and faith. Sight says, but faith says, but sight says, but faith says, and he always lands on faith.
We’ll look at a few of these points through the chapter as sight and faith alternate. From the standpoint of sight, he sees complaints and visible circumstances, but then when faith answers, he sees the comforts of God. He sees the eternal realities that you can only see with eyes of faith.
Sometimes your senses and your sight and your immediate perception only tell you things that are really depressing and negative because there are those seasons of life when the storm is just very rough, and if you look at what you can see, you’re going to be depressed.
If you lift your eyes up and look at unseen things, the eternal realities, that are more true than the storm itself, then you’ll find comfort for your heart. That’s when we have to say, “Lord, though I can’t see You, though I can’t feel You, I believe that You are more real, You are more true, and You are bigger, infinitely bigger, than any circumstance or situation that I am facing this day.”
So for example, in verses 1 and 2, faith says, “There’s a God.” Now he can’t see God. He feels abandoned by God, but faith says, “There is a God.” And faith says, “My soul is longing for fellowship with Him.” So he talks to God, even when he doesn’t feel that God is there. He says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God” (Ps. 42:1). So faith says, “There is a God, and my soul is longing for Him.”
Sight responds in verses 3 and 4 by saying, “All I have to eat are my tears. Day and night my tears have been my food. Those around me continually say to me, ‘Where is their God?’” That’s what sight tells him. “You’re distressed. You’re depressed. You’re miserable. Everybody’s forsaken you, and the people who haven’t forsaken you are attacking you. They continually say to me . . .” That’s what sight says.
I’m not saying that sight’s not real. Sight is very real. Your circumstances are very real. I’m just saying they’re not the ultimate reality. Faith counters sight. So in verse 5, faith counters sight by saying, “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance” (Ps. 42:5).
But then verses 6 and 7, sight comes back, and sight says, “My soul is cast down.” “I’m drowning.”
And then faith speaks up again in verse 8 and says, “The LORD will command His lovingkindness,” His hesed is the Hebrew word—His covenant love, His faithful love. “God will send His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me.” That’s what faith says.
He can’t see the lovingkindness of God. He doesn’t feel the lovingkindness of God. He can’t hear the song of God with his physical ears, but he says by faith, “That’s what I know to be true.”
Then in verse 9 sight kicks in again and speaks up. In verse 9 sight says, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? As with a breaking of my bones, my enemies reproach me, While they say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’” (Ps. 42:9-10). Sight says, “God seems to have forgotten me. My enemies reproach me all day long.”
But did you catch what faith says in verse 9? “I will say to God” what? “my Rock.” Faith says, “My Rock.” Experience (sight) says, “You’re forgotten.” And as one commentator says, “Everything depends on which voice is heeded.” Which one are you going to listen to—faith or sight? Sight says, “Forgotten.” Faith says, “God, my Rock.” Which voice are you going to listen to?
Then faith comes back and speaks up again in verse 11, “Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, the help, [the salvation] of my countenance.” Faith recognizes that God has a supply that is sufficient for all my need.
Sight doesn’t tell me that. Sight says, “There is no supply for your need. There’s nothing that’s going to meet your need. You’re washed up. You’re done.”
Faith says, “God has a supply that is sufficient to meet all of my need.” Look at how this works out in this passage. In verse 3 of chapter 42, we have sight speaking about tears being my food day and night, and in verse 10, “My enemies reproach me all day long.” The need is constant. The need is day and night—all day long, going on and on and on.
But what does faith offer? Look at verse 8. “The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me.” So day and night there are problems and pressures and adversity, but what else is there day and night? There’s God’s provision, His lovingkindness, His song.
So as often and as extended and as prolonged as my circumstances are, there’s enough mercy and grace to be sufficient—more than enough. All day long God will give you His lovingkindness, and all night long His song will be with me.
I love that phrase—“in the night His song shall be with me.” You know the Scripture teaches that God sings over us, and we sing to God. Now we often think about singing to God, but you may not have thought about God singing over us.
Think about that passage in Zephaniah chapter 3, verse 17, that says,
The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.
God singing over us! I’ve never, with my physical ears, heard God audibly singing over me, but you know, faith tells me that He does. When sight says, “All the noise around me is really driving me crazy,” faith says, “God is singing over you.” Through the night God is singing over you.
Then when we sing back to God, what a holy duet! We lift up our song to Him. We join our voices with Him. He sings over us. We sing to Him. Job 35 talks about “God my Maker, who gives songs in the night” (v. 10).
Some of you have heard me share this before, but during that very difficult first year of starting Revive Our Hearts and on to the present day, God has done something very precious for me that—it almost sounds a little weird, so I’m hesitant to say it—but it’s been so real. I’ve found myself for the last many months, almost every single morning, no matter what time I wake up, I wake up with a phrase, a musical phrase, going through my mind. It’s the notes and the words to just that little phrase from “Jesus Loves Me.” The phrase is, “They are weak, but He is strong.”
Morning after morning God has wakened me with that song, and I’ve been conscious that His song has been with me in the night—not just the literal night hours, but the spiritual dark times. His song has been with me. The God of my life gives His song in the night.
During the Thirty-Year War in the seventeenth century, there was a German pastor named Paul Gerhardt. Pastor Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from their home, and they went through a very discouraging time. One night they were staying at a small, village inn. They were homeless. They were afraid, and Mrs. Gerhardt just broke down and cried openly in despair.
Pastor Gerhardt tried to comfort her, and he reminded her of God’s promises about His provision and His keeping. Then he went outside, and once he was alone, he broke down, too, and just began to weep—so discouraged, so heavy-hearted. This was, for him, his darkest hour.
Not long after that, God began to lift the burden, and he felt renewed by the sense of God’s presence—the reminder of God’s hesed lovingkindness—His covenant love. He took his pen, and he wrote a hymn that has brought comfort to a lot of other people since.
Here’s one of the stanzas of that hymn:
Give to the winds thy fears.
Hope, and be undismayed.
God hears thy sighs
And counts thy tears.
God shall lift up thy head.
Through waves and clouds and storms,
He gently clears the way.
Wait thou His time.
So shall the night soon end
In joyous day.2
God gives songs in the night, and so faith says, “Yes, it’s dark outside. Yes, my enemies are all around me. Yes, it seems that God has forsaken me.”
That’s what sight tells me, but faith says, “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him.” All He has given me is sufficient, and His supply is sufficient for all my need. So sing when sight says everything is falling apart. Exercise faith and sing to God who is your hope.
Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth helping us prepare for the storms that are bound to come in our lives. The series is called “Dealing with Depression and Doubt.”
Singing will help you lift your eyes above your circumstances. So will meeting with other women who have a heart for the Lord. And we’re excited to give you that opportunity this fall. Revive ’19 is coming to Indianapolis! The theme for this year’s conference is Seeking Him, and each speaker will explore a component of personal revival. You’ll hear from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Mary Kassian, Dannah Gresh, and many others, helping you know the Lord in a deeper way.
Revive ’19 is coming to Indianapolis September 27–28. You’ll get a discount when you register before May 1, so get your group together now and start making plans. The last Revive conference sold out right around that discount deadline, so don’t put it off. For all the details on Revive ’19, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.
Can you really choose to have joy when you don’t feel it?
Nancy: God is my exceeding joy. It’s not the absence of the storm that determines my joy level. It’s the presence of God. He is my exceeding joy, so I will be joyful in Him.
Leslie: Nancy will talk about emotions and joy tomorrow. I hope you’ll be back for Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is inviting you to start talking to yourself. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
All Scriptures from the New King James Version.
1D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and its Cure (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 20-21.
2Our Daily Bread, May 7, 1992.
*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.