As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, "Where is your God?" These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why are you so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast in me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon - from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the LORD directs His love, at night His song is with me - a prayer to the God of my life. (Psalm 42:1-8)
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The majority of people today hate face-to-face confrontation.
Think about it. When there is a problem with a family member, a co-worker, or a friend, our typical first response is never to go to them with an honest portrayal of our thoughts and feelings. Instead, we try to blow it off and "let it slide."
"I'm fine," we say...
And the truth is, deep down, we are afraid to be honest with them about what is going on. If we put it aside, we do not have to "open up that can of worms."
But more than our dislike of confronting "them" is our dislike of confronting ourselves. We do not want to acknowledge to our own selves how sad, mad, bitter, hurt, or disrespected something made us feel. If we acknowledge it, then we have to feel it; experience it; work through it.
So... instead of the much needed introspection, we put it off and label it all as nothing.
Today's Psalmist displays the wonderfully learned discipline of self-awareness and self-confrontation.
He says: "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why are you so disturbed within me?"
And when reading this psalm, we can very easily skip over this without noticing the incredible strength and awareness that is displayed.
The writer was in a place of struggle, surrounded by a world that called him to doubt God's grace and provision - a world that told him to do it all and fix it all himself. And though he could have dismissed his inner struggle and blamed it on something else, he decided to sit down, call himself out, and remind himself of Who his soul needs.
"My soul is downcast in me, therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon - from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the LORD directs His love, at night His song is with me - a prayer to the God of my life."
In confronting himself, the psalmist reminds his soul of the LORD's work in his life.
And as I sit here, I wonder...what would my day be like if I continually displayed self-awareness and self-confrontation?
What would it be like if I continually recognized my own thoughts and said, "Why are you thinking like this right now Greg? Why are you being so distant? Why am I letting this control my thoughts and actions? Why am I treating [my wife, kids, friends, co-workers] like this?"
You see, if we - like today's psalmist - began living self-aware and self-confronting lives, our inner honestly would allow us to break sinful patterns before they could ever begin.
But the difficult thing about self-awareness is that it should never end. In fact, this Psalm was written to be sung repeatedly.
I am going to have you read that again... Today's Psalm - that anthem above of self-realization and humble reliance - was written for Israel to sing over and over and over.
The psalmist knew that he needed to always remind his soul of who he craves: the Living God. He needed to always call out his soul's habit of sin, frustration, doubt, worry, anxiety, and fear. And he needed to always remember the LORD's work despite it all.
So this week, I challenge you to practice these two disciplines; to be aware of your inner self and to call out sin and temptation when it comes.
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Greg, Declare Glory