Traversing a chilly emotional landscape

Don Baumann

Don Baumann

If you love outdoor winter sports, our banner snowfall has turned our home into a winter wonderland.

However, even the most ardent winter enthusiast can also experience the inner chill of despondency, sometimes for no identifiable reason.

The writers of Psalm 42 expressed what a relationship with the living God can look like when we journey through a season of inner gloom, even depression.

I’d encourage you to read the entire psalm. For now, let’s consider some insights it contains:

• We were all made for a relationship with God Himself. There’s a longing in us that no one or nothing else can fill. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” (Psalm 42:1)

• We all go through down times, when others feel distant, detached, uncaring— even God Himself.

Memories of happier days can make our dispirited state even worse: “These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go the house of God… with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.” (v 4)

Notice: we can pour out our soul to God, since He knows and cares, even when we don’t feel like He does.

The psalm writers remind themselves that dark times, although overwhelming, can be traversed with God’s help and presence: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” ( v 5).

• Sometimes we are overtaken by circumstances beyond our control. We can simultaneously recognize God is over all things, yet blame Him for what is happening: “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” (v 7)

• Our emotions can propel us on roller coaster rides: one moment we recognize God’s love and spontaneously sing to Him; the next we angrily declare He has forgotten us (vv 8-9). God can handle our emotional vacillations.

If you know you need a relationship with the living God but don’t have one, please recognize that Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, has done everything necessary to make that relationship possible through faith in Him alone. We trust in Him, turn from being our own master, and follow our creator and Redeemer.

If you find yourself feeling chilled inside as well as out, listen to that encouraging counsel, spoken by people who trusted God while crossing through a dark time: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (v 11)

(NOTE: A kind heart and listening ear can be found at any local church office. If you are experiencing a crisis, call 988 at any time, day or night, to speak with someone.)

Don Baumann is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.


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