Submitted by Debbie Thomas

Psalm 42: 5,11 “Why are you cast down, oh my soul?  And, why are you disquieted within me?  Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him.”

I have always been intrigued at the way the psalmist speaks to himself in his writings.  In the verses from Psalm 42, he asks himself why he is cast down, why he is troubled.  Rather than giving an answer to his question, however, he commands his soul to “hope in God”. The writer knows that God is his only true hope; he knows that he must take his eyes off of himself and place them upon the source of his strength!

I am learning this lesson- to speak to my own soul when I begin to slide into the slough of sorrow or discouragement.  I am learning to remind myself that my hope is sure, for I do not hope in the temporal, but rather in the eternal.  My path on the adventure of life winds around curves and bends.  Metaphorically, I have scaled the jagged mountains, at times being cut along the journey; I have trudged through dark, foreboding valleys, doubting the possibility of any way out.  I have, on occasion, grown depressed, “down cast”, as the psalmist writes.  I have lost perspective; I have not been able to see a future.  I have been drenched in the torrential rain of despondency. Life has turned to darkness; I have felt crushed on every side.  I have lost sight of my hope.

But, it has been in these moments, as I have spoken to my own soul, that the blessed presence of the Holy Spirit has embraced me, taken my hand and walked with me through the muck and mire of life, leading me once again into the sunshine of the presence of God.  There my sight has returned.  There my path came into focus once again.

I am learning to speak to my soul.  I am learning to remind myself of my eternal hope I will command my soul to hope in the One who has made me, the One who loves me more than I can ever comprehend, the One who always seeks what is best for me.  I command myself to hope in Christ.

Yes, I direct myself to hope in Christ, yet hope is not possible without a change of attitude, which is not possible without a change of focus.  In order to change my focus, I must choose to think differently.  What I choose to think on, the things I tell myself (my self-talk), leads to my focus, which in turn leads to my attitude.  If I direct my soul to hope in Christ and in His love and plan for my life, I will then need to choose to think on the good things that God has done or will do in the future.  This is best accomplished through remembering the ways in which Christ has shown Himself present in the past, and by reading His Word about promises for the future.

Once I begin to focus on the One who is my Hope, then my trust in Him and in His plan for my life grows.  As I continue this, the darkness around me dissipates, the storm seems less severe, and the path appears less perilous for I remember my Hope is walking with me.  And so, no matter the circumstances I find myself in, I choose to speak to my soul, “My soul, hope in God, for I will yet praise Him!”