Self, Listen for a Moment…

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?

It’s like God swooped in after weeks of silence just to break a carton of eggs on my head and swoop back out.

I hunger for His promises, so I chew on them in His word. I drink them in through sermons by wonderful, down-to-earth pastors. I gobble them in songs and hymns.

But my heart remains sunken. My prayers seem to fall with a dull thud. I lost my will to write anything, because how does one put any of this into words?

My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.

I have cried at length or forcefully at least once daily. An overwhelmingly sudden sadness has seized me, and I am, as Anne Shirley morosely put it, “in the depths of despair”.

Despite Marilla Cuthbert’s frank response lingering in the back of my mind — “to be in the depths of despair is to turn your back on God” — despite multiple passages and sermon lessons recalling God’s goodness and grace to mind, I can’t seem to shake it. And it haunts me.

I really did stride into this season of life in Youngstown, full of hope and excitement for “how God would use me”. I hoped for motherhood, I hoped for seeds planted to grow in a new church in the city, I hoped to live in this house forever, I hoped to find a job at a small software company someday. We soared in on the confidence of doing God’s will.

I’m not so sure anymore.

Where is He? He showed me His kindness in taking away the sting of strong desires — desires for good but temporary things. But He seemed to leave me shortly after in His radio silence once more, with unexpected bitterness reaching its fingers under the door of my soul.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.

O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan
And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life.

I do not want to be in this space. In fact, I really don’t understand how I am in this space.

I am mentally aware and fully able to remember God’s truths. I have seen His goodness.

Then why do I feel as though I lost all belief? All hope? All confidence in the God of the universe?

Am I, like Martin Lloyd-Jones once illustrated, listening to my self speak? Listening to the deceitful whispers of my heart? Letting it hiss doubt into my rays of hope or mock my attempts at faith?

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you.

Martin Lloyd-Jones

My soul, my saved but sinful, weak, little soul, is convincing me that I am a failure.

You can’t make babies, it says.

You won’t ever get another technical writing job, it sneers.

You can never do anything right, it cries, waving dramatically at the decisions I helped make within the past few months.

Look at this mess you call your life, it grins wickedly.

And all I do is listen.

I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

My poor husband probably thinks I am spiraling out of control. I sob uncontrollably and stare bleakly. I pull a poker face while tears stream down my throat. I have a sudden urge to ask a passerby to punch me in the face, because crying from physical pain seems more productive.

Most people will think I’m overreacting.

But those who have felt completely hopeless while knowing God’s promises…

All I can do is, with David, speak truth to my soul. Tell it to shut up and listen, because the Holy God who died for me says something different.

Yeah, okay, soul, so I don’t feel, emotionally, this way right now. But God assures me in His word that I am valuable to Him. Simply because He values me. Not because of me.

And I will never lose my value to Him because of me, either, because Jesus paid for me with His blood. It’s fixed. My value has been fixed. It will never waver.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

Psalm 42

Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, “Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.”

Martin Lloyd-Jones


3 thoughts on “Self, Listen for a Moment…

  1. Stuart Olyott helped me understand a lot about trusting God when things seem to be against me. He says, “Faith is being sure of the unseen. We must be clear about this. It is not being sure of the unknown, but of the unseen.” Then he goes on to point out that nothing is truly unknown because God knows all things, which includes him knowing what he is doing. If we trust in his goodness and faithfulness and lovingkindness, and that his character never changes, then we can know that (though unseen to us) nothing happens outside of his characteristic love and care for us. For me, suddenly, the unseen things are less worrisome, and the seemingly crushing things no longer indicate a God who has removed his hand of provision from me. They are just part of his known-to-him and unseen-to-me plan.

  2. Hannah,
    My heart goes out to you. I would love to have some great wisdom to share with you, but I do not. I do want to tell you that God has allowed you and Mr to be right where you are because He sees the future in a way that we can not. This may be a dark time for you, a time when you can’t seem to “hear” God speak. (Been there, many times.) Take time each day to rejoice. Yep rejoice. Rejoice that though this chapter isn’t a positive one, it is only a chapter in your life. Rejoice that you get to wake up each day with your loved one beside you. Just take time to rejoice. And then ask God for the blessings that He has for you…today. Today’s blessings…ask. And then as you see new on the look out for other women (young or old) or may need your special encouragement in their dark chapter! You are blessed!

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