Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me? (Psalm 42:5)
As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God. (Psalm 42:1,2)
The psalmist puts his finger on the problem when the symptom is discouragement. When you are discouraged, that is, when you soul is “cast down,” you’re thirsty. Your soul is thirsty for God.
Who hasn’t felt discouraged? You might be discouraged because you tried your hardest but failed. Or someone let you down. Someone you thought you could depend on. Discouragement can arise when reality is far less than your dreams. Or when you feel like you’re the only one who cares. I am sure there are a hundred other things that could make you wonder, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?”
In this psalm, we learn that discouragement is a manifestation of spiritual thirst. You know what physical thirst feels like. Dry mouth, scratchy throat, and a craving for anything liquid. Spiritual thirst feels like a horrible terrible no good very bad day.
Here’s the thing: a wonderful successful tremendous very good day will not quench that thirst. Only God can. A soul that thirsts is a soul that thirst for God. Why? Because we screw up and wander so far from Him. Because we forget his promises, take his gifts for granted, trust in horses, chariots and our own strength, and neglect to pray.
So where do you go to get a nice long tall drink of God for your soul? His Word. Prayer. Worship. He’s right there when we gather in His name. He faithfully touches our hearts with His Word. He loves to engage us in conversational prayer. He reminds us of that cooler of water dumped over our head in baptism.
When I’ve had it “up to here,” I just need to stop. Stop trying, stop blaming, stop justifying and stop pretending. Stop and listen to Him. Alone, or with a few, or with the church. Open my Bible and open my heart. What a joy and what a game-changer to drink from His well!