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WHY ARE YOU DOWNCAST, O MY SOUL? (PSALMS 42-43)

How I love Psalm 42.

It has brought me such strength when all His waves and billows are sweeping me over me.

deepcallstodeep1---ps42.deep

We have done this psalm before, and will do again, for it is ever needed and ever new. Recently, on this blog, we completed the first book in the Psalter, and now we will begin, until the time of Thanksgiving and Advent, the second book in the Psalter. It begins with “nine songs of the sons of Korah,” so we should expect some great music inspired by these psalms. My favorite psalm (at least right now!) is Psalm 42, and its heart cry and dialogue with the soul continues on into Psalm 43. This is a famous psalm — many great pieces of music, even a whole classical hour by Mendelssohn, have been inspired by it. Why does it so penetrate the hearts of believers?

Next door to me is a dock that has stood strong in the storms of Lake Michigan for 60 years. It is a dock from which I, my children, and my grandchildren have caught fish, teeming without number. From it we have watched the waves and boats empowered by His invisible wind, so like the Spirit in our lives.

kids and boats
Jessa, Analise, and Simeon Brestin on a Regatta day

But last month we had a storm like none I had seen. In the beginning, it was exciting, and I went out and filmed it, and put it on my author facebook page. You can click below to go to see that five second video sweeping over my neighbor’s dock — but that was just the beginning of the storm. Soon it moved from exciting to frightening.

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=623923911059448

Eleven inches of rain filled basements everywhere.  The fierce storm gave a fatal blow to the foundations of this seemingly impenetrable dock, actually cracking the cement. Now, every day, more of the dock disappears into the bay. What seemed impenetrable is passing away.

Shattocks
Before and after the storm that cracked the foundation
Shattocks)ct16
I took this picture standing on what remains of the dock on October 16th, 2014

 

When the very foundation of our life is cracked, and we feel like we cannot go on, what do we do?

We speak the truth to our souls, for if our foundation is cracked, it is a faulty foundation. For we have a foundation that can never crack, we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. We must talk to our souls, the way the psalmist did, when all of the waves were sweeping over him.

 

Steve Brestin at cabin

This is my beloved husband months before he died, near the dock I just described. Steve was a contemplative man, and he often had to take his soul in hand during his illness. He told our youngest, “Annie — I’m so sad I have to leave you — but I’m so glad I got to be your daddy. And I will always be your daddy.” Even in those words I know that Steve was talking to his soul. He trusted God’s promises that we would be reunited one day. And we will! One day we will hug, we will talk, we will laugh — and “everything sad,” as Tolkein put it, “will be untrue.” Joy will come in the morning.

steveandme
Steve and Dee before the storm of cancer hit

eternityMy son J. R., who studies the Jewish holy days, told me that the day of Steve’s death, October 16th, was the 8th day of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, and represented eternity — for an 8 on it’s side is the symbol of eternity. Steve and I have been separated for ten years, but we will be together for eternity.

Jesus knows our sorrow will only last for the night and joy will come in the morning, yet He still cares about our nights, and will comfort His suffering child. And at times, deep will call to deep.

What does this phrase that has inspired poets and painters mean?

Sunday Ice Breaker

deepcallstodeepinthe roarslide_55

Charles Spurgeon interpreted it as “the deep voice of God speaking deep into our souls.” If you have stood by a waterfall you know there is an echo. In the midst of tumult, in the midst of the wilderness, our God has a way of speaking to us. Usually it is through the Word, sometimes through the peace only He can give, and sometimes through a gift that comes with such uncanny timing that you know it is from Him. How I remember when my daughter Sally came to me on the 5th Anniversary of Steve’s death with news we had waited for so long: “I know it’s a sad day, Mom — but it’s a great day — I’m pregnant!”

1. Share a time when “Deep called to deep,” when in a time of sorrow or anxiety, the deep voice of God spoke deep into your soul.

LET’S GO!

Bible study: Monday-Wednesday

READ PSALM 42:

Read as a lover reads, lingering on the images. There are four water images. The first is familiar to us because of this praise song. Make this song a sacrifice of worship by singing with your mind and heart to the Lord.

1. In Psalm 42:1-2, what is the image? What do the streams of living water that the psalmist is trying to find represent?

2. The psalmist says he is not finding God. He is like a deer dying for water who comes all the way down from the mountain and finds the riverbed dry. What water image is in verse 3? How is this a true lament?

3. Look carefully and see if you can find hidden in this verse 3 the  classic signs of depression.  (weeping, not sleeping, not eating).

4. Find another causal factor to depression in verse 4.

5. Often, when facing an enormous trial, we want to withdraw. Have you felt that way? Why is that one of the worst things you can do?

6. If you are, indeed, withdrawing, talk to your soul and tell her some of the ways being with Christian brethren has encouraged you in the past.

I want to tell you how you, my sisters on this blog, have come to mean a great deal to me. It is often through you that God whispers, encourages, and guides. You are a well of water into which I dip. One of you sent me an engraved heart that says: “Love beneath the waves: deep calls to deep.” I treasure it and I treasure you.

7. Now, in Psalm 42:5, the psalmist does something very wise. He takes his soul in hand and asks him a question. What is it?

8. For those who have been through our idolatry study, what do you think he is really asking his soul?

9. What, according to verse 5, does he tell his soul to do?

10. As the psalmist (we aren’t sure if it was David, though Spurgeon says it reeks of David!) is far away from others who love God (he may be fleeing in the wilderness from enemies, he may be captured) he remembers times when he did have fellowship with brothers and sisters. He remembers how God was close to him. He is lamenting when suddenly God comes to him. In verse 7 we have the famous phrase “deep calls to deep.” What water image is it paired with? What do you know about the roar of waterfalls that would go with “deep calling to deep?”

10. The fourth water image is both negative and positive, though I for so long only saw it as negative. Find it in this same verse.

A. How could this water image be negative?

B. Verse 7 paired with verse 8 shows how this water image could be positive. What do you see?

11. Watch this and comment on it. What images from Psalm 42 do you find? Other thoughts?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCwDtSFMjdw

12. Read Psalm 43. What do you see?

13. Why must we at times keep repeating the same truth to our souls?

Thursday-Friday Sermon

14. LISTEN TO KELLER’S FREE SERMON ON PSALM 42 AND RECORD YOUR THOUGHTS: http://www.gospelinlife.com/finding-god-7916.html

15. ONE THING THAT IS INTERESTING TO ME, IS KELLER REFERS TO PEOPLE WHO SO BACKED AWAY FROM GOD IN THE MIDST OF PAIN THAT THEY ARE NOT SURE THEY ARE CHRISTIANS. WHAT THOUGHTS DO YOU HAVE ON THIS?

Saturday:

16. What is your take-a-way and why?

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495 comments

  1. Dee,
     
    I use google chrome and for the past couple months the submit button has often been way over to the right and only barely showing  (still works though).

    1. Nila and Dee, I use Google Chrome as well and have had the same problem of the submit button being way over to the right whenever I have zoomed to make the print larger.  Now however I am using 125% zoom and my submit button is at the bottom as it should be. COOL! 
       
      THANKS, DAVID!

  2. 7. Now, in Psalm 42:5, the psalmist does something very wise. He takes his soul in hand and asks him a question. What is it? H asks is soul why it is in despair and so disturbed
    8. For those who have been through our idolatry study, what do you think he is really asking his soul?  I bet he is thinking “What is the real issue here?  What is the root cause?”  “Is it because my hope is in something other than the Lord?”
    9. What, according to verse 5, does he tell his soul to do?  He tells his soul that he need to put his hope in God.  
     
     

  3. 11. Watch this and comment on it. What images from Psalm 42 do you find? Other thoughts?
     
    Almost all of the verses match very well with images from Psalm 42.   “All who thirst” (like the deer panting for water).  Come to the fountain (like the spray from the waterfalls).   Let pain and sorrow be washed away – as well as  “In the waves of his mercy” (“all your waves and breakers have swept over me).   And most of all:   “As deep cries out to deep.”      The chorus “Come Lord Jesus Come”  (as deep cries out to deep).      
     
    12.  Read Psalm 43. What do you see?     
     
    I see that verses 5 and 11  of Psalm 42 and verse 5 of Psalm 43 are identical.   
     
     
    13. Why must we at times keep repeating the same truth to our souls?
     
     
    Because we just dont get a permanent take on the first try.    Is this “hardening of our hearts?”   I hope not, but might well be.   I think this is why memorizing  Scripture is so important, because we have to repeat it over and over to ourselves in order to memorize.   There are some who say that it helps to keep your body in a repetitive action while memorizing (marching in a stomping fashion, or reaching your arms into the air).   I guess we nearly need to flagellate ourselves with Scripture to get it to stick.   🙂       

  4. So many “deep”experiences, each one designed to remind me to turn to Christ.  The most recent was the Macular Hole and the face-down experience for recovery had me lamenting why I had another illness to deal with.  Yet, my wisdom knows that it is through adversity that I am most prone to grow in Christ.  It is when the situations are out of my control, that I finally relinquish control to God.
    The water images on Psalm 42 remind me of the need we as individuals have to be cleansed.  While my salvation experience occurred at age 9, as I grow up, I must bring other aspects of my belief system to God for cleansing or for refreshment.  These aspects were not able to be understood by me at the age of my salvation, but as I grow and develop I become aware of them and must return to the cleansing power of Christ to wash away the crud and renew my spirit.  
    The image of tears remind me that it is through saltwater that healing comes.  While it is temporarily painful, the salt heals as it cleanses.  In other words, the pain is put into perspective of God’s will.  It is all about me merging my mind with the will of God.  Do I like to go through these experiences? No.  But they are necessary for my growth and the growth of others I relate to.
    The cure – realization that you have allowed your spirit to be downcast and the realization that the healing comes by placing hope in God, trusting His guidance when you do not yet understand the why.  Sometimes that means praising Him even when you do not feel like it.

    1. As I grow up, I must bring other aspects of my belief system to God for cleansing or for refreshment.  

       
      This is so true, Sherryl.   And sometimes, when I take a deep look and ask God to cleanse, I end up seeing that not all of my belief system was aligning to His desire for me.    Was just wondering how your recovery has gone and if you’re feeling good about the results?

      1. Thank you, Wanda, for asking.  The Macular Hole is closed and my sight is what it was when I first met the retina specialist.  She said it could continue to improve over the next couple of months.  She has released me back to my regular eye doctor’s care.

        1. That sounds like good news overall!  I do hope you see more improvement too.  

        2. Sherryl, thanks for the update on your health. I hope your eyesight continues to improve.

        3. As you can probably notice, sometimes my weeks can get kind of crazy and I don’t get to read comments as thoroughly as I would like.  I came across this just this morning, Sherryl…I am rejoicing with you that your sight has been restored and is expected to improve even more over the next months.  Thank you for the update.

    2. Sherryl……..Love this…………” my wisdom knows that it is through adversity that I am most prone to grow in Christ.  It is when the situations are out of my control, that I finally relinquish control to God.”

      Praying your doing so much better now!

    3. Sherryl, your comments are so deep. Yes, it is through the times of adversity that I have realized the same thing. God needs to wash away the crud and I think of the potter with the clay, molding and remaking the pot. The tears have been my food day and night, and they are part of the process of remolding and cleansing. How we hate the pain, but it is also when the waves and breakers have swept over me.
       
      But the promises of God come through: “the Lord will command  his lovingkindness  in the daytime and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. Thanks for this image of washing away the crud.

    4. So true, Sherryl…what a great metaphor to bring home the point.
      “through saltwater that healing comes. While it is temporarily painful, the salt heals as it cleanses. …Do I like to go through these experiences? No. But they are necessary for my growth and the the growth of others I relate to.”

  5. Withdrawal, etc.  I’ve been thinking about this more.  When I am struggling, there are some “types” of people I only can take in small doses.
     
     Last night in class, one of the students brought up sympathy vs empathy. Later, I brought up “one-upping,” and a student shared how her experience with heart surgery led to hearing so many (unhelpful) stories about others’ experiences. Her situation stunk, and “I understand & this is why” was not helpful.  As I’ve been thinking about it more, I believe there is something about deep pain that translates across human experiences.  That’s why we don’t need to know EXACTLY what the psalmists were experiencing.  If I have had a similar experience, I might be able to better navigate the logistics of symptom management or accessing services.  But to pretend or think that I understand their pain better than a random stranger may be insulting.  I know I’m guilty of assuming that someone with a similar label might understand better, but I often learn I was wrong (both in terms of my understanding of others’ experiences or their experiences of mine).  Life often doesn’t seem fair, but I can’t assess fairness from my very limited perspective.  I become frustrated and angry with a few who hurt me, but I’m praying that I will (very!!!) slowly become compassionate toward them, too — to see them as God sees them.
     
    I suspect that I often prefer to be alone if I am depressed or experiencing some kind of pain because I don’t even want to hear hints of “I know what you’re feeling because … So if I tell you about how bad my life is, you will feel better!”  Obviously, no one says it quite like that:)   If I sense the attitude that “My life is harder than yours is” or “my life is harder than their life is” or  “you will never know or understand this degree of pain,” I’m very content to affirm that illusion by saying very little.  Everyone carries some kind of pain, and we don’t know where others have been/what they are experiencing.   Sometimes it may be helpful to get a referral or a “how to” but how that is presented makes a big difference.  (“you should” = not good 🙂  )
     
    I’m getting “withdrawal” all mixed up because I suspect there are times I may need to withdraw (??) from people who suck the life out of me.  (and I’m hoping I can grow to the point where I don’t allow the life to be sucked out of me).   That’s why it sometimes is easier to interact with strangers.  I don’t have to “prove myself” to complete strangers or to my closest friends and many colleagues.  But, for now, I need to periodically withdraw from those who want to me DO something, think some way, or seem to impose inaccurate assumptions on me etc.  Maybe that’s one of the reasons I like diversity — lots of surprises and lower likelihood of inaccurate assumptions because I am aware of my ignorance!

    1. oh Renee–THIS I so relate to “I need to periodically withdraw from those who want to me DO something, think some way, or seem to impose inaccurate assumptions on me etc. ” I have a few people in my life who I feel THEY need me to be something for them, or a certain way…I have never, ever, been one to be good at “faking it”, even when it might be the socially correct thing to do–I hate veneers and I tend to really show however I am feeling…but then the ones who seem to want me to be/do something for their own identity–I get the “what’s wrong?” if I’m not happy enough for their standards…hard to type this & make sense (sense in my head!) anyway, your words struck a chord with me. My husband has really been my best friend since I was 16, he’s seen the absolute worst and somehow loves me-so with him, I can be whatever I am feeling and that is a gift–I have another friend like that who I can be “me” with and they don’t take any certain mood personally or as something to fix…just such a rare gift to have a friend like that. Sorry–I spieled, but appreciate your heart, your thoughts so much. You’re a gift to your students Renee. 

      1. Elizabeth, Thanks so much for your encouragment.  Glad it made sense to you 🙂   I just had a sudden “What did I write?” panic — wondering if I was too obnoxious.  What you wrote about having people that need you to be a certain way… OH MY, that is draining.  The look/sound of pity in the midst of difficult circumstances (kinda like Tim Keller joked about in the talk on singleness) just makes me shake my head.  I certainly don’t want to feel or act miserable or focus on negative stuff just to meet someone else’s need to “show compassion” (I don’t think that really is compassion, but I can’t quite describe it).  OK, now I REALLY vented — and I REALLY appreciate that you get it. What you wrote is SO clear to me.  I also know that many of our life situations are SO different — and so I appreciate you even more.  (What I dislike most is when I react to this kind of behavior by giving it right back, sorta playing into the one-upmanship or even thinking it; so maybe it’s good that I usually withdraw automatically so that I don’t get sucked into those games).  

        When I think about my class last night, I feel even more strongly that it isn’t helpful to try to rank people on the degree of pain they experience:  If I want to focus on problems, I see someone who lost a parent at age 7, someone with serious health problems not solved by surgery, someone who lost a close friend in combat, someone whose family is in a war-torn country (ok, I’ll stop there).  In reality, these are competent young professionals in graduate school, and their challenges add to my appreciation of them.  We also were going to talk about identity last night, but didn’t have time.  It’s so easy for me to look at myself and see “problems” — but I rarely see others that way.  The exception might be when their problems are so much a part of their identities that they talk about them all the time.  Thinking about David, a man after God’s own heart (and he had problems!!! but those problems weren’t his identity.)

         I’m SO THANKFUL for my identity in Christ and that he is more than sufficient.  I appreciate this Bible Study and group so much because we don’t stop at problems; we seek Him — to know Him, the power of the resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.  I’m thinking problems themselves may become idols.
         
        I still don’t understand the rights and wrongs of withdrawal; I probably do it too much — but there are other times when I probably should be alone (with the Lord) when I’m not.  Any ideas?  I’m mostly on auto-pilot, but my autopilot sometimes takes wrong turns.

        1. You’re not obnoxious! =)  I read your thoughts, and they make sense and I can also relate on many levels.

        2. Thanks for your encouragement, Mary.  Glad you could relate!   I couldn’t reply to you, so I replied to myself 😉  

        3. Renee – “we don’t stop at problems; we seek Him…..I’m thinking problems themselves may become idols.”  I think you may be on to something!  Reminds me of when a season of legitimate grieving in my life began to be almost falling in love with my own grieving – sick!  But true.  Two things: we CANNOT ignore problems or burdens….we ARE to carry one another’s burdens for sure.  BUT, you are right…we MUST push on to Christ and not get stuck wallowing together in the burdens!  You said it well.  Thanks.

        4. This whole conversation is making me think of sitting Shivah with people when they are “in a place.” When those of us who seem to need to talk to make people feel better, sometimes words can’t say what you’re feeling. I know sometimes I want to make people feel better but I really don’t have the words.; I put my foot in my mouth. This is the time when we should just sit with them. Sitting Shivah.

    2. Renee…..It sounds like you have some really good discussions in your classes.  And those are the kinds of things that stick with people.   I read most of your comment before I left for my afternoon job and thought about it most of the time I was gone.  The one-upmanship is a trap….and I totally can fall into it.  And I think when I am guilty of it, is when I’m with the people in my life that are most draining to me.  Those who ask ‘how are you’ and then proceed to tell you how awful things are for them.  So….I can fall into this terrible trap of telling them first something that I’m dealing with, (in hopes to suppress their long and detailed stories of woe.)  Sounds really ugly and when I type it out, I can see that it really IS ugly.   My heart is ‘deceitful and desperately wicked’  I  need an extra level of grace and tolerance that sometimes wears thin.  Another thing I do, is avoid answering ‘How are you?’ with any kind of detail and purposely withhold details just because I don’t want to go through the whole, long process of what will follow.   And  sometimes, I have to withdraw…..for my own peace of mind.  BUT when I do…..I always end up feeling guilty and then I reach out and make a call to the person from whom I just withdrew.  UGH.  So, I guess I agree with you that it’s hard to figure out when withdrawing is good  (I’m usually ‘better off’ if I don’t have real frequent conversations with these persons.) and when I’m just being selfish, because I don’t want to put out the energy to jump through all the hoops.  Lots to keep working on.

      1. “How are you” came up, too!  The deal for that one is don’t ask unless you’re really willing to find out!  Kinda habit to ask, but I usually do mean it.  Yet I’m sometimes surprised at the answer 🙂

        1. Wow…this was a great conversation. 
           
          I too dislike facade and pretense…with an approval idol (I’m speaking of myself; thankfully greater awareness has lessened this substantially) there have been times when it has been easy to fall prey to the desire to appear a certain way.  When I fall into the trap, I feel guilty for not allowing my true self to shine through and putting on a mask…it is such a insult to God and self to portray something/someone that I am not. 
           
          It also bothers me when people ask “how are you?” with no wish to know the truth.  Sometimes I have asked (close friends) on “those days” when asked if they really care to know or if I should just simply give the automatic response of “I’m fine”.  I do not ask “how are you?” unless I really care to know the truth.  I suppose this is another one of those things learned through the years.  In my younger days I was probably as guilty of asking the question with no true intention or care for hearing anything but the auto response.
           
          Lastly, at the beginning of this week my first comment related to a church fight that I was intimately involved in, it was truly a heart wrenching situation for me.  Admittedly, I probably had too much of my identity tied into my position, too much of my emotional and social being involved in the church…when my position abruptly came to an end, the loss was great on many levels.  When I really get down to the bare bones of the matter with the Lord, I can see beyond the deceit to spiritual warfare…it saddens me to think what might have been if not succumbing to the prompts of the evil one.  Of late, I have become thinking about what might have occurred or have been occurring in the pastor’s life (i.e., what suffering) that would have compelled him to act in such an ungodly manner.  I’m not sure if this is making any sense, but I was pondering this on my drive to work Monday morning…this pondering led me to pray for this pastor…to pray for his safety, his health and strength, his happiness and well-being, and for ease in his life (loving-kindness prayer).  I could sense my heart turn from an accusatory, judging stance to one of compassion for the suffering that drove him to his regrettable actions.  For me, it is becoming more apparent that so much is tied to suffering and how suffering is dealt with; I try hard to remember that I don’t know how others are suffering and shouldn’t make assumptions or comparisons.

  6. Welcome to all the new “faces” this week–Nicole I loved your testimony and vulnerable heart. I have not been keeping up as well with responding to comments this week, but I do read them in my email and am praying for requests as they come. Hoping next week I can be more responsive. And Jackie I too hope you and Jes get that trip!:)

  7. Tried to post this but it didn’t show up??
    11. Watch this and comment on it. What images from Psalm 42 do you find? Other thoughts? This song came to mind as soon as “deep cries out to deep” was mentioned. Although after Song of Songs I have a different perspective of Jesus “coming.” He is always here, but I do see the wisdom in asking for the Holy Spirit to move and work, aka “coming.” Stream of life is always such a powerful visual for me. We humans understand thirst so much – even those who are rich and without want or “need” feel thirst from time to time – and to parallel that with a spiritual thirst and a stream of life, versus a muddy bog, doesn’t lose its power because of that identity with thirst and knowing how good it is to drink. Also the pain and sorrow being washed away is the wave that overcomes with his steadfast love.
     
    12. Read Psalm 43. What do you see? The first thing that jumps out is “Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” I do not know the literal meaning of this but today it spoke to me as a “who cares what the enemy does, my God is bigger” sort of message. Along the same lines as the “why are you cast down, O my soul?” Why do I get so upset at oppression from the enemy? I know the enemy is going to attack me and I know the enemy wants to devour and laugh at me falling on my face so why mourn? My God is great and good and in control. And all so often what the evil one intends for evil actually brings Him glory and is worked for good!
     
    The net thing was this, “Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. THEN I will go to the altar of God…” His light and truth is what brings us to the stream of life. He sends His light and truth and THEN we respond by coming to His altar. This is gracious and lovely. He wants me, He sends it so that I am called away from my stone heart and come to the stream of life to wash away my pain and sorrow – He desires these things for me.
     
    Lastly, the repeat of “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
     
    13. What must we at times keep repeating the same truth to our souls? Because I forget. God forgive me, I am distracted by my own reactions and desires and I forget. My eyes wander and I stumble off the path. But OH! He sends His truth and light and then I come back to His altar and He always forgives and welcomes eagerly and continues to teach, and mold, and refine, and I remember all the good work He has done in me! He has rescued me from slavery and broken my bonds! I am not the same person anymore – to God be the glory! Even me repeating the truth comes by His prodding and whisper. He blesses me by convicting me to stop, pray, turn. Though I fail and still feel a failure I will tell His truth that He HAS done work in me, He is at work in me. I need to focus on the turning, not the falling, because falling will always be inevitable, but the turning is the imprint of Him on my heart, and the testimony that He is working. The turning is good, the turning is seeking Him, loving Him.

    1. Jill, Your answer to number 13, Why must we repeat the same truths to ourselves is just how i feel! I forget, am distracted, my eyes wander and i stumble off the path, too. But how marvelous, he has rescued me from slavery and broken my bonds! Amen, Yes, he is at work in me. This really resonated with me. I love how you expressed your feelings.

      1. Jill, I echo Shirley…you are right on here…how easily we get distracted and forget, and yes, Lord forgive me for allowing my eyes (heart, mind) to wander…thank You for Your faithfulness and unconditional love.

        1. Nanci I was not able to hit reply directly from a previous post of how when you were so badly hurt at your church. I was blessed to hear your thoughts and especially of how on Monday you began to pray for that Pastor. What a huge blessing that was to hear you process then end of that last paragraph. we need more of that!

        2. Thanks, Liz.  It can still be an effort…so easy to fall into bitterness, resentment, judgment, but I am truly working on shifting my focus and heart.  The definite heart shift that took place Monday morning was so evident…really refreshing on many levels.

  8. Just listened to the song that Nicole recommended on a previous page, called ‘Clear the Stage’ by Jimmy Needham.  Wow.  This one really hits home, regarding idols even in the way we worship, if our hearts aren’t truly worshiping in ‘Spirit and Truth’.    Very moving.  Decided to post the link. 
     
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6smGew7dGto

  9. 10. The fourth water image is both negative and positive, though I for so long only saw it as negative. Find it in this same verse.
    A. How could this water image be negative?
    Waves—can be severely destructive (Dee’s dock). They are engulfing. Sometimes life-taking
    B. Verse 7 paired with verse 8 shows how this water image could be positive. What do you see?
    When you watch a wave, it is hard to discern the beginning or end, it is circular, ceaseless. The Lord’s presence, His love, like the waters, is all-encompassing, inescapable. And the waves, like all things, are under His control. Amazing thought I so easily overlook—but no wave can begin to “curl” or turn without His command.
     
    11. Watch this and comment on it. What images from Psalm 42 do you find? Other thoughts?
     
    “All who are thirsty…Come to the fountain…the stream of life…Let the pain and the sorrow; Be washed away; In the waves of his mercy; As deep cries out to deep…”
    The water reflects the Light from above—and it is un-containable, limitless. 
     He knew we would become spiritually, desperately dry in this world, He reminds us, He IS the Living Water, Who never runs out. He calls us to come to Him to be filled, cup over-flowing. 
     
    12. Read Psalm 43. What do you see?
    He repeats what he asked himself in Ps. 42:5 “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” and then again, speaks truth to his soul “Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”
    Daily, by the moment, I need to ask myself what am I trusting in—and the remind myself the truth of the Gospel—in Christ alone.
     
    13. Why must we at times keep repeating the same truth to our souls?
     
    My default mode is self-righteousness and trusting in my own ways…or to fear. Either way I am not believing a truth about God’s character, and must continually examine, repent, and turn again to trust.
     

  10. 11. Watch this and comment on it. What images from Psalm 42 do you find? Other thoughts?
    ‘Come Lord Jesus’, by Kutless.  OH…..priceless memories of being in the ‘mosh pit’  (albeit a pretty ‘tame’ mosh pit) at a Kutless concert with my younger son when he was in his teens.  He LOVED Kutless and to think that he welcomed his mom with him standing up front next to the stage still amazes me!  For years, my husband and I took groups of kids to a Christian music festival every summer.  It’s one of the experiences that shaped us as a family.  (and memories of it also make my older kids’ leaving the faith so perplexing to me) I have to say that I remembered the melody immediately  (this was one of their best and more mellow songs in my mind!) ….. I never did know all the words.  And in this week of looking at Psalm 42, I am so moved by the lines here from the psalm.  ‘Deep calling out to deep.’  I never knew what that meant until this study.  And the ‘waves of His mercy’ touch me because sometimes they come washing over me, simultaneously……or shortly after the ‘waves and breakers’ of trials and suffering have overwhelmed me.  The imagery really does help because sometimes, in the middle of the most difficult trials, I can’t see the way out……I can’t see the answers and I certainly don’t feel calm.  If I can go back through the mental pictures that I am seeing now…..the breakers roaring and then the gentle waves of mercy…..maybe I can hang on to that when I next feel like a situation is beyond what I can bear.   Thanks so much for the reminder of this beautiful song…..

  11. 12. Read Psalm 43. What do you see?  The psalmist asked God to vindicate him and he either is so depressed or so afraid that he is asking why God has rejected him.  Next he seems to question himself “Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Would be good to memorize that question!) Then, he looks forward to God’s deliverance and to praising him. When he repeats the question “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?,” the tone feels different than in Ps 42. This time it seems as if he is asking the question as a way to state an affirmation of hope (BUT I MAY BE READING WAY TOO MUCH INTO THIS — because I have no evidence except that the verses seem to progress in a hopeful direction)
     
    13. Why must we at times keep repeating the same truth to our souls?  because the lies that bombard our souls don’t stop, and also because repetition of the same truths helps those truths soak in and we become more confident in Him.

  12. 10. What water image is it paired with? What do you know about the roar of waterfalls that would go with “deep calling to deep?”
     
    Paired with with a waterfall; one thing about waterfalls that I remember is the noise! They are SO loud that I can barely hear myself think! Maybe that’s because I really shouldn’t listen for myself, but instead listen for God to talk to me. The noise distracts me from my own thoughts and might allow Him to break through deeply.
     
     
    11. The fourth water image is both negative and positive, though I for so long only saw it as negative. Find it in this same verse.
     
    “…The waves and breakers have swept over me…”  I see this as God washing us clean with His love and power.
     
    A. How could this water image be negative?
     
    Water is a powerful force that can harm us. We have a storm that is moving through our area and trees are down this morning. Scary stuff.
     
    B. Verse 7 paired with verse 8 shows how this water image could be positive. What do you see?
     
    I believe verse 8 gives us that confidence that He is in charge; He washes over us and cleanses us fully.
     
     

  13. 1. Share a time when “Deep called to deep,” when in a time of sorrow or anxiety, the deep voice of God spoke deep into your soul.
     
    First, and I know several here couldn’t help but tell what stood out to them…I am always deeply moved by that picture of Steve. I notice first that it is in black and white. Though you can’t quite see Steve’s face but rather see from the side, you sense the contemplation, the deep wrestling, the asking questions of God, the sorrow, and I get a sense that in that wrestling, the Lord was meeting him.  It’s a lonely picture, but in the sense that there are sufferings that one has to work out with God because no one else can really enter into that with you. Dee, thank you for sharing once again with us about your Steve. He is an example of clinging to the Lord, hoping, trusting…yet the pain, because he did not want to leave you.
     
    Jesus knows our sorrow will only last for the night and joy will come in the morning…that is from Psalm 30. I remember when I first joined this blog in January 2010 to participate in Dee’s online study of The God of All Comfort. Just six months prior, I had lost my nephew to a drug overdose. I was still grieving and really at a place where I was just “stuck”. When the study came to Psalm 30, I really got stuck there. I could not picture an end to the night, the sorrow, and joy coming. Dee asked us to read the Psalm “as a lover reads” and we were to praise God. I couldn’t do it…I didn’t “feel” like praising Him. After a few attempts, one night I determined to praise Him in this Psalm whether I felt like it or not. The image of the Lord turning my mourning into dancing didn’t make sense to me…how could I dance all alone? I only had a picture in my mind of being desolate, of being alone, and how could I dance by myself? The “deep calling to deep” was when, as I was laboring through this Psalm, He gave me a picture in my mind of Jesus, my Bridegroom, coming to me and dancing with me. Of course…I was not meant to dance all alone. I needed Him to heal, to wipe tears away, to be with me in this. I re-wrote Psalm 30:11-12 in my own words in the journal I kept at that time:
     
    When I stood, all alone, desolate, wailing, hands outstretched but empty
    Then You approached, my beloved Bridegroom. You took hold of me and
    drew me close, into Your arms.
    You removed the sackcloth, whether of sin or of mourning, and clothed
    me in the most beautiful garment of joy, a bridal gown, pure and white,
    And we dance now, together
    No words need be spoken for my heart sings to You a song of love
    and thanksgiving and gratefulness forever.
     
    Dee taught us in this study that “There really is power in praying the Psalms, in praising, even when we don’t feel like it. It interrupts our self-preoccupation. Begin by asking God to help me slow down, meditate, and really see Psalm 30. Ask Him to kiss me.” (Dee’s words that I recorded in my journal)

    1. Susan –  your words about your grief over your nephew really was like a “deep calling to deep” reflection for me.  you so beautifully told of the overwhelming deep valley of grief….and the overwhelming deep joy of realizing Jesus has joined you for the dance, the healing!  What an encouragement you are to me this very morning to pray the Psalms of praise!

    2. oh Susan! your whole journal piece on Psalm 30–is just beautiful, really touched my heart this morning, thank you for sharing this! “You removed the sackcloth, whether of sin or of mourning, and clothed me in the most beautiful garment of joy, a bridal gown, pure and white,”

    3. Oh Susan! I have missed you this week. Your contemplative voice speaking wisdom. This whole post is so good, gold. Thank you, it spoke to me this morning. 

    4. Susan,
      Thank you.   Sitting here with a lump in my throat.   “There really is power in praying the Psalms, in praising, even when we don’t feel like it. It interrupts our self-preoccupation.”    
      Susan, your post here today reminded me of a beautiful video biography I watched last year about a young woman who was killed in an avalanche here in Colorado (where I am spending the week with three tiny granddaughters.)    This young woman’s diary reveals  an intensely intimate relationship with her God.  
      https://dod.org/review/product/list/id/1151/?limit=50
       
       

      1. Nila….I just finished watching this and my heart grieved and found joy in the end….what a sad but joyous celebration of her life….thank you so much for sharing it with us!

      2. Nila Thank you so much for sharing this. What a beautiful legacy. what depth to such a young life. Truly inspring
         
         

    5. Oh Susan, (almost!) wordless here.  So good.  I remember then.  You’ve come so far, been through so much.  God is faithful.

    6. This is beautiful, Susan.  Sometimes praise is a choice and act of the will and then the feelings follow. 

    7. Such a beautiful post, Susan. I love it when others give examples of praying the psalms, because I truly see the power in it, and don’t have much experience with it.  I have been missing you this week too.  I thought of posting a query yesterday, wondering if you were doing okay…and here you are.  I do think of you, caring for your mom and dad and know your plate is so full.  

    8. Oh Susan that was so beautiful…full of wisdom and  peace.  You always amaze me!

    9. Susan Loved your Psalm prayer. There is so much power in praise especially when we are not feeling like it. what a difficult loss you experienced with your nephew. I know I mentioned this book before but I will again “Prison to Praise” was a book that so impacted me in a time that I was feeling stuck.

    10. “There really is power in praying the Psalms, in praising, even when we don’t feel like it. It interrupts our self-preoccupation.”
      Susan, thank you…wonderful, much needed reminder.
       

  14. Renee–I’ve been thinking on this since yesterday: “I still don’t understand the rights and wrongs of withdrawal; I probably do it too much — but there are other times when I probably should be alone (with the Lord) when I’m not.  Any ideas? ” 
     
    My time is limited today but I want to ponder it further–I do think that for an introvert (I too am “technically” an introvert though I had to fake extroverted so much when we moved here, that my latest tests show me dead center in the middle of the E & I!) there is a necessary and “healthy” withdrawal that is different than the withdrawing during pain. We know (as intro’s) when we just can’t hear, anything, for a bit so that we can re-fuel alone and have something to give. But for ME, the 2 times I know I am withdrawing for the “wrong” reasons, is when I am angry/hurt/sulking–and even then I do actually want the person to fix it, it’s a bad defense mechanism from my past. OR, the other times I want to withdrawal and for me it is sin, is like today. I feel what is coming over the weekend…and in my selfishness I want to “coddle” myself, escape, not have to be “on”. But I can see, this time, it is my selfish heart. I’ve done it before in these situations…left it for my husband to “deal” with and I escape–the store, my room…but I can sense that in this case it’s like going to the party and dealing with the chit chat because I do love the host and need to just focus on what will make her feel loved, regardless of how it makes me feel. 
     
    Sorry I spieled! AGH!! Real quick though to you and Wanda (wanting introv. definition)–I found an article last night “31 Unmistakable Signs you’re an Introvert”–pretty funny! Not all applicable to me, not appropriate to post here, but some were funny 😉

    1. Elizabeth, Good pondering and distinguishing between healthy and “wrong” withdrawal — will continue to ponder.  Good point about results changing, too, after you live in one mode for quite awhile.

    2. thanks, Elizabeth…….I will look for the article sometime!

    3. Elizabeth…..you inspire me so much!  I’m praying for you and your mom to have a blessed week-end together this week-end and to give you peace.  Just trust in him!

    4. Okay, this make me laugh so hard (because I can related, I’ve had to “fake it” myself at times) that I’m glad I’m over a week post-op now or I’d be in serious pain!
      “I too am “technically” an introvert though I had to fake extroverted …”

    5. Good differentiation, Elizabeth.  I too am introverted and find that I truly need “alone” time to recharge…I can be social and interactive, but only if I have the needed recharge time.  That being said, I also know that when I am really hurt or angry, silent treatment (passive aggression) can be a withdrawal tactic I use which is unhealthy and destructive.

  15. WONDERFUL, helpful sermon!! (comments to come tonight or tomorrow)

  16. Renee,
     
    I’ve been thinking about your post from yesterday quite a bit.   Especially, “we don’t stop at problems; we seek Him…..I’m thinking problems themselves may become idols.”    You’re right.   Our problems can become what we wallow in and can become our identifying mark and this preoccupation can become such an unhealthy ingrown focus.   The Lord knows, I can get stuck in the grief and camp there.   So grateful that He calls me on and gives me a life-giving focus….. if/when I will respond.
     
    Also, Renee, sometimes you really help me to lighten up and laugh.    Thank you!   

  17. Nila, Thanks! Your post is helping me clarify my thoughts… more later (maybe!)

  18. I meet many people who question their relationship with Christ or their salvation because they have erroneously assumed that a life walking with Christ is supposed to be easier than walking without Him.  What they often fail to grasp is the easier part is not because all their problems have been solved or they won’t experience problems or hurts, but it is because in their relationship with Christ comes the comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit to walk with us through the difficulties and the pain.  Too many American, especially, equate no problems and no suffering with a mature relationship with our Lord.  The opposite is more correct.  The closer your walk with Christ the more problems you might expect to confront as the forces of evil in the world seek to make you fail in your walk.  Remember, Christ left His Church here on earth to guide people to a relationship with the Savior.  We do that more effectively as we rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us through our daily life, which include problems and pain.

    1. This is a beautiful and wise post Sherryl “it is because in their relationship with Christ comes the comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit to walk with us through the difficulties and the pain.”

    2. Sherryl – your post overflows with the wisdom of God.  SO true.  And so needful that we be reminded….thank you.

    3. AMEN to all of the above, Sherryl.  I so agree with what you said about Americans (maybe others too) equating ‘the Lord is blessing me’  and ‘God is good’ with only the times when everything is going well and life is easy.  Whenever I hear that, I think of Habakkuk faith……’though the fig tree does not bloom, though their be no fruit on the vine……still I will praise Him.’

      1. Wanda – oh, oh, oh…..another of our shared favorites….Habakkuk!  How MANY the times I’ve taken my soul in hand and spoken THAT truth to my soul! 

    4. Sherryl, I love this!     ” The closer your walk with Christ the more problems you might expect to confront as the forces of evil in the world seek to make you fail in your walk.  Remember, Christ left His Church here on earth to guide people to a relationship with the Savior.  We do that more effectively as we rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us through our daily life, which include problems and pain.”

      1. Amen!

    1. Dee and David,   I do think refreshing the page makes the submit button return to the bottom.   If I reply to several people on a page, I likely don’t refresh each time…..but as long as I can still submit with the ‘half button’ on the right side, I’m okay!   Thanks for working on this!

  19. 14. LISTEN TO KELLER’S FREE SERMON ON PSALM 42 AND RECORD YOUR THOUGHTS: http://www.gospelinlife.com/finding-god-7916.html
     
    Apologizing in advance for the length.   Everything was so good — I couldn’t decide what to cut out!   
     
    FINDING GOD
    by Dr. Timothy Keller
     
     
    There are two kinds of physical disciplines: 
           Trainers  – they help you to make progress 
           Doctors  – if you are sick or injured, they help you get back on track
     
    Same way spiritually:
         There are disciplines along the line of trainers who lead you to grow by meditation and prayer. 
         Some are defensive and treat problems and difficulties. 
     
    There is a condition that will come upon you, if you are making any kind of spiritual journey.
    There are causal factors.
    There are cures.
     
    Condition:   
          Vs. 1  –   the metaphor “as a deer pants for waterbrooks.”      A panting deer is actually dying of thirst.    Deer are not dumb.  They know to seek out water when they are thirsty.  But this deer comes down from the mountain and finds its usual watering place is now a dry river bed.   Spiritually I am like the deer and God is like the dry river bed.    
     
         The psalmist’s give and take with God is gone.  He has lost his relationship experience of God’s presence.  He has lost the reality of God, not the belief in God.   Spiritual dryness, doubt, darkness, and deadness come with a sense of guilt.   However, the psalmist has not done anything wrong.   Usually when we experience spiritual dryness, we are sure we have forgotten to do something on our Christian to-do list.   Our friends may even reflect this to us.   The psalmist is dying from spiritual thirst.   It can happen to you without your doing something wrong.    
     
         An alert to newer Christians:   the first time it happens, it freaks you out.    Our culture leads us to be we must have done something wrong.  It is easy for the new Christian to start to doubt.   All of us, new or not, need to be careful, as we tend to not treat it very well.   It is like letting a cold go into pneumonia.   If we don’t react properly, it goes from bad to worse.      Keller gave the example of his being an outfielder at one time, and he was so downcast that the other team had made a hit, that we failed to notice the ball going by him.  Some people are off-the-rails for years, having misplayed the ball, so to speak.  If you don’t treat it, it will begin to overtake your beliefs and your intellect.  Some are not sure they are Christians – years ago this happened to them and they never got back on the rails, and the condition became much more sustained.  
     
    Causal factors: 
     
    In general, the causal factors associated with spiritual dryness, doubt, darkness, and deadness are:
     
    1.   Disruption of community.   In verse 4 and verse 6, the psalmist recalls that he used to be among the multitudes going to the temple.  Now he is up in the north away from the Temple and all of the corporate worship he was used to.   We don’t know why (he may have been captured and taken there).   
     
           There is individual prayer, Bible study, and praise (worship), and there is corporate prayer, Bible study, and praise.  Passover is an example.  The people came together, read the history of how God brought them out of Egypt, and renewed their covenant with God.    Americans underestimate the value of communal praise and worship.They think “I can be very good spiritual person all by myself, without going to a church, synagogue or mosque.  We want to get our fix from the sermon and go home.   We don’t want to become part of the big community, and don’t want to become accountable to anyone.     We won’t get by with it!!
     
    2.  Disillusionment at the events of life.   
     
       The psalmist’s enemies ask “Where is your God?”   The enemies taunt him, and it is going to his heart.   In verse 9 some very disillusioning things are happening.   The Christian commits to Christ and the next two years are miserable.   The question is asked , “Where is your God? If He is as good as you say, why is this happening?   Of course the question could be asked “Imagine how it would be,  if your life was falling apart and you hadn’t committed to Christ?”   However, we tend to ask “Why would God allow this to happen?”   That is the way we look at it.   
     
    3. Deprivation.  
     
        This is physical deprivation.    The psalmist says his tears are his food.   He is showing signs of clinical depression.   When you get to this point,   you aren’t going to pull out of your funk because of the physical deprivation of not eating or sleeping.   Keller quotes David Martin Lloyd-Jones”   “Does anyone believe that as long as you are a Christian, it doesn’t matter what the condition of your body is?  You will soon be disillusioned if you believe that.”   
     
       Keller says that he personally had about an 8-week dry time when he was fighting accusations and doubts through his sermons as he preached.  He discussed it with his wife, and they thought maybe he wasn’t praying enough.   Later when they looked back on it, they came to the conclusion that he was just enormously tired at that time.   
     
     –  There are those who emphasize the physical and say “Take your medicine.”
     –  There are those who emphasize the moral and say “Keep a stiff upper lip” “Stop sniveling!”  
     –  There are those who emphasize the psychological and emotional, giving psychological support, but not listening.   You have to realize that all are involved: listening, supporting, and being tough.  
     
    Cures:  
     
    – Pours out his soul
    -Analyzes his hopes
    – Remembers the grace of God
    – Preaches to his heart
     
    1.  Pours out his soul.
        First things is, if you get nothing out of worship, prayer, Bible reading – don’t miss it! Talk to God about his absence. 
     
     2. Analyzes his hopes.   A refrain comes running through the Psalms 42 and 43: “Hope in God…”    Over and over. 
     
    Some rhetorical questions are not asking for information – may be simply saying “I’m being stupid.”   But the psalmist is looking for information.   He is looking for his hopes.   He is thinking “I put my hope in things that have let me down.”    
     
        In Psalm 3 – when David is on the run because his son Absalom has pulled a coup, is taking the throne away from David, and is hunting David to kill him.     There were two sources of David’s glory (1) the love of his son and family, and (2) the love and acclaim of his people.  David had lost both.    He says, “You, O Lord, are my shield, my glory, and the lifter of my head.”   David is relocating his glory in God.   What is it that you really rest in – don’t rest in it so much – relocate your hope. 
     
    3. Remembers the loving kindness of God.    Deliberately thinking of the unmerited grace.  Remembering Israel’s corporate redemption and his own personal history, and sings his song. 
    These psalms were not actually David’s but were written by the Sons of Korah, professional artists. 
     
     
    4.   He has learned to preach to his heart.  
    Lloyd-Jones says you have to talk to your heart.  Grab your heart and say “Shut up and listen!” It takes a lot of listening to be a good preacher.   You need to listen to the people you are preaching to – listen to the strengths and their weaknesses.    Then you need to say, “Now listen.”    Preach the grace of God to yourself.   This is an absolutely essential skill.   The psalmist is realistic.   He does not say “Hope in God” in the past or the present – but in the future.    
     
    Last point:     We have a resource the psalmist didn’t have.   We need it to preach the gospel to our hearts.   We find ourselves saying “I think God has finally given up on me.”   However, the psalmist says “No!”     We need to think of the one who said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”    Jesus was really forsaken by God, so God will never give up on us.    When you do get back on track you will be far stronger.    
     

    1. Deanna…you blow me away with your beautiful notes!    I’ve yet to listen to the sermon, but can’t wait now!

    2. Deanna – like Wanda, I’ve yet to listen….and likewise, I’m going to use your notes – INCREDIBLE!  thank you   (were you a little bit enthused??  🙂

    3. Deanna…INCREDIBLE notes!  I finished listening to the sermon this morning and you hit ALL the points.

  20. Deanna……Don’t apologize….  Accept my thanks!   I haven’t had a chance to listen yet and when I do, I will pull up your notes and follow along.  I have done this before and it helps me tremendously.  Thank you so much for getting there first and writing such great detailed notes!

  21. Deanna, Thanks for your wonderful notes!  Now I won’t edit mine 😉

    My comments/what struck me:  I’d never thought about spiritual disciplines as cures, or defensive, as well as training.  This is such a helpful perspective.

    The psalmist has lost the countenance of God, the face of God = he has lost his relational experience of God’s presence.  The writer is experiencing spiritual dryness and he has done nothing wrong.  It happens even if you’re doing your daily Christian to-do list 🙂   

    Downsides of our culture:  Americans are 1) moralistic (when spiritual dryness occurs we think we’re doing something wrong);  2) individualistic (underestimate the importance of communal spiritual disciplines); 3) dualistic (pit body and spiritual against each other)
     
    Keller said that if we don’t treat spiritual dryness properly, it will become more pervasive and sustained.  And these cultural downsides are related to not treating it properly.  I also appreciated his (proper 😉 )  clarification of the phrase “causal factors,” that this doesn’t necessarily mean cause & effect.  Instead, the factors are associated with spiritual dryness
     
    Good point about actively reconstructing community — and not just in NYC!  This reminded me of advice I read about mid-life and moving toward retirement:  Make younger friends!  For over 10 years, my friends have been retiring & moving; a few have died.  I’m encouraged by this reminder because it helps me realize that not only is actively reconstructing community okay, it is important for ourselves as well as for others who move in to communities.
     
    I also was relieved that he saw and clearly presented the physical, moral, psychological/emotional and spiritual as connected.
     
    The cures are an “astounding balance of both listening to and talking to the heart.”  When talking about prayer & meditation (cure #1), Keller said “be more disciplined than you ever have been before.”  Cure #2 is analyzing one’s hopes and then shifting them (I am relocating my glory in you)I also was impressed by Keller’s discussion of how much listening it takes to be a good preacher.  Then, after listening to people, finding out their hopes, fears, strengths, and weaknesses, you turn and preach.  That’s similar to what we are to do to our souls (great illustration): “At some point, you grab your heart and say ‘shut up and listen!'”

    The end was so powerful when he tied the panting, dying deer from the beginning of Ps 42 to the Gospel.  We can read Ps 42-43 and listen to the One who said “I’m dying of thirst,” read of the One whose enemies taunted him.  He had ultimate thirst; he really was forsaken by God.  (Reminds me of when Keller said that Jesus was abandoned so that we will never be abandoned).  PREACH CHRIST TO YOURSELF.

    This sermon is such good preparation (training!) to learn to be defensive.  I am confused by one thread, though.  First, Keller uses the phrase spiritual dryness. He switches to the word depression  when he talked about physical deprivation, citing David Martyn Lloyd Jones.  He uses spiritual dryness again when talking about the cures (I see the phrase in my notes under 2 and 4).   I get the potential connection between spiritual dryness and depression; on the other hand, depression doesn’t always mean spiritual dryness??  For some reason, this just isn’t falling into neat little categories in my brain.  I have a dot or two missing in my attempts to connect them.  I guess I’m wondering if he is saying they are the same.  I see these cures as being extremely valuable in getting through depression, but not necessarily getting out of depression (depending on the type of depression).  Insight, please???
     

      1. Dee, No, I didn’t think he was saying spiritual dryness leads to depression, but I wondered if he was using the terms interchangeably … or else just talking about both.  I felt a little disconnect there in that I was wondering which he was talking about and to which/how I was supposed to apply it. Actually, I can see that I could apply it to both spiritual dryness and depression.  It’s not so much a double whammy I am experiencing now (although I think I probably am on the edge of depression) as cognitive dissonance or confusion. Since he started with spiritual dryness, then went to depression, then went back to spiritual dryness, he may have been saying that depression leads to spiritual dryness — although I don’t think that always is the case.   Maybe this is one topic (of VERY few) that I’d like to package up with a little bow on top, and something just is not clicking.  

        1. Renee…..I didn’t really catch this in the sermon, but here’s my two cents.  I think Lloyd-Jones used the term  ‘spiritual depression’……which in my mind does not equate to clinical depression.  I have not heard the sermon from Lloyd-Jones, but Yancey, in his book PRAYER says this, referencing another author, Terry Muck.  
          Muck also quotes Maryn Llyod-Jones on how the book of Psalms gives a good model for combating spiritual depression.   The central cause of spiritual depression, he said, “is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself.”  Lloyd-Jones points to Psalm 42 in which the poet says to himself:  “Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?”  After holding such an inner conversation, Muck concludes,  “At some point we must take hold of ourselves and act.”  
           
          From this little snippet of Lloyd-Jones’ message (as seen through both Muck and Yancey)…..I am seeing spiritual depression as interchangeable with spiritual dryness…..but I don’t see any relationship to clinical depression.    But again, I didn’t hear how Keller used the terms.  (though, I did hear the sermon, I didn’t differentiate them, I guess).  Is ‘spiritual depression’ a different term altogether?   My gut tells me it is dryness, discouragement, lack of fervor…….but there may be much more that I don’t know.  

  22. 12. Read Psalm 43. What do you see?
     
    The psalmist asks for God’s protection and recognizes he needs to turn to God; to praise and worship. He doesn’t understand why he can’t hear from God. He wonders why his heart is low when God is in control.
     
     
    13. Why must we at times keep repeating the same truth to our souls? 
     
    Because we are weak and need constant reminding. We forget. Plus we are self centered; always worried about ourselves When our focus should be on Him.

  23. 12.  Well, the first thing I see in Psalm 43 are the two words “vindicate me”.  and then “defend my cause against an ungodly people.”   Me?  My cause?  At this point in what I would call the spiritual battle of a believer, the Psalmist has clearly had enough – he’s been worn down by the battle and hope is fading…..and the mountains in his life?  the waves?  He has come to believe that it’s all about him!  Oh my.  Not where we want to dwell.  In me and my land!  But the HOPE I see here is the Grace of God – He knows our frame….even in the self-centered times of our journey, when we’re crying out to Him in our pain, He’s there.  He takes that most fragile and imperfect faith and somehow we begin to call out (like my favorite father in the N.T!) “I believe, help my unbelief”.  And in v. 3,4,&5 here the tide begins to turn…..the Psalmists eyes are once again on his God.  He longs to be with God in His dwelling, worshipping Him and praising Him with music.  He pleads to God to send his light and his truth…..and he speaks to his soul to hope in God!  Beautiful. 

  24. 13.   We need to keep speaking the same truth to our souls because we are ever so forgetful of God’s truths!  How can that be?  The world, the flesh and the devil?  Scripture is clear that all three are against us…..they do in fact, oppress us – and they never rest.  Once again, I think of how in our recent studies we’ve looked at God’s reality and our reality of life – even in Keller’s excellent talk to singles, etc.  The ONLY antidote to blind eyes is God, His Word and His Truth! 

  25. 1. In Psalm 42:1-2, what is the image? What do the streams of living water that the psalmist is trying to find represent?
     
    The image is thirsting; a deer panting for a stream of water to drink from, and a soul that is dry and panting for God. Just as the deer literally needs to find water to slake its thirst, so the soul must find the living water to drink. I believe the streams of living water represent intimacy with God, just as Jesus told the Samaritan woman that He had living water to give her and if she had this living water, she would never thirst again. Though at the time this psalm was written the Holy Spirit had not gone out (like at Pentecost) to indwell believers, I get the image of a soul that is empty and searching, ever searching, for something to end the thirst, the emptiness, the hole that is in the soul until it is filled by God. When the Holy Spirit comes to indwell a person, I imagine the living water pouring in and filling the empty soul. And, as Jesus said that He was the true bread that came from heaven, so He IS the Living Water.
     
    2. The psalmist says he is not finding God. He is like a deer dying for water who comes all the way down from the mountain and finds the riverbed dry. What water image is in verse 3? How is this a true lament?
     
    The water image in verse 3 is tears. He has not found the living water to drink from; his only food is his tears. In the God of All Comfort study, Dee said that a lament is “the complaint or cry of sorrow or fear.” A lament is honestly telling God how I feel; different from just “complaining” in that I am taking it to God and crying out to him. This psalmist is telling God that he is thirsty for Him, he is sorrowful, he is crying all the time, and he is being taunted by others saying “Where is your God?” Indeed, the psalmist may be wondering himself, God, where are You?
     
    3. Look carefully and see if you can find hidden in verse 3 the classic signs of depression. (weeping, not sleeping, not eating).
     
    “My tears have been my food day and night” – depression can bring emotional lability with crying; sometimes crying for almost no apparent reason…a feeling of pervasive sadness. Also, if his tears have been his food, then he has no appetite and doesn’t want to eat. If tears are coming day and night, then he is not sleeping well at night, crying during the night.

    1. Susan – thank you for reminding me of the difference between lament and complaint”\ – that also is a truth that I need to tell my soul!  Very timely.  🙂      (So glad you’re back and able to post!  )
       
      I just triggered the security site, so am going back and removing some things….we’ll see.

  26. 13.  back again….just a quick little illustration…..of the body of Christ’s role here too:  Wanda just posted Habakkuk 3: 17&18.  That whole chapter is one I have worked on memorizing because of the POWER of GOD in the earlier verses….at any rate, it’s been weeks or maybe even months since that particular Scripture has crossed my mind…..and then, this morning – bingo!  There was Wanda, posting these verses and my heart just CAME ALIVE.  TRUTH.  TRUE TRUTH.  ETERNAL TRUTH.  I turned to that beautiful, hope-filled chapter and let it speak to my soul.  I’m sensing God fortifying my heart for this day……I have no clue what the day will hold….but I know WHO holds the day!  (My daughter has had a very hard week…..it’s been tough.  🙁  )

    1. Praying for your daughter today, Jackie.

    2. I have been praying for you and your family Jackie.

    3. Just saw this now, Jackie…..(late Friday night)…..Glad that Habakkuk helped you his morning.  I think of you and all you’re carrying, often.  

  27. Thanks everyone for “missing” me…I think the first day I was able to get on the blog I spent reading all the comments…overwhelming because there were already over 300 of them! But…I knew I didn’t want to miss any of them. Deanna – praying for John to recover from his fall, Liz so beautiful your sharing about your younger sister, Elizabeth – I could just picture you kneeling by your son’s bed and that song beginning to play, Nila – thank you for sharing so moving-ly about the night before your baby girl’s heart surgery, it was beautiful but I can’t imagine the pain and grief of losing your precious baby girl, Rebecca – so practical of you applying what you learn to helping your husband deliver his papers, and the Rich Mullins quotes on what is really spiritual…so many more…all the discussion between Renee and Wanda and the difficulties Beth has had trying to find fellowship at church…Joyce’s words about Dee and Steve…I just felt I couldn’t begin without reading as I knew I would miss so much!
     
    Have had some tremendously difficult family situations this week which I just am not at liberty to share the details of here…much involving my parents, the Alzheimer’s my mom suffers from, family tensions, broken relationships between other family members. Hard.

    1. Susan….So sorry to hear of your very hard week.  And I know you are already in a hard season.  Know that you are so loved.  I wish I could pop over and lend a hand.
      Prayers continue.     

    2. Susan, so sad. Sorry to hear of a difficult week. Praying for you and the specific situations.

    3. Susan, sorry you have had a hard week. Praying for you!

    4. Susan Sounds like a lot of tough stuff. I know we serve a God who specializes in carrying us though it all.  My prayer is that He pours out an abundance of grace on you. That you can keep your eyes so fixed and focused on Him despite all of the turmoil, and that He will be able to bring you into that secret place and wrap His arms around you strong. 

  28. Susan, I will pray for your family issues. Also, I thought some of you might want to know that I received an “all clear” from my doctor yesterday at my one year visit after the breast cancer surgery last year! YAY!! Free for another year! Praise The Lord!

    1. Woo hoo!  Thanking God with & for you, Laura.

    2. Laura-d–YEA!! I was just wondering if you were near a one-year mark–OH so thankful!! HUGE PRAISE!! Praying too for your son’s wisdom teeth extraction this morning!

    3. Such good news to get the official word from your doctor, Laura!  What an encouragment!

    4. Laura,  Hallelujah!    I know how important these anniversaries are.   My older daughter just passed her fourth anniversary a few months ago after having cervical cancer.   Praying you wil be clear of cancer from now on as well!   

    5. Good news Laura!

    6. Laura! Praise God, what a wonderful piece of news! =D

    7. Yay, Laura. So glad that you have received the “all clear”. Praise the Lord!

    8. OH LAURA – thanks for sharing the good news! Kind of makes one want to shout it, doesn’t it?! God is good!

    9. Laura I did not know you had walked that difficult road. So happy for you to be able to celebrate 1 year!!!

    10. Laura, excellent news! thanks for sharing…:)

  29. Laura – rejoicing along with you this morning!  Just said a quick prayer for your son’s surgery today too….

  30. 15. ONE THING THAT IS INTERESTING TO ME, IS KELLER REFERS TO PEOPLE WHO SO BACKED AWAY FROM GOD IN THE MIDST OF PAIN THAT THEY ARE NOT SURE THEY ARE CHRISTIANS. WHAT THOUGHTS DO YOU HAVE ON THIS?
     
    I have a couple of thoughts.   One thought that came through from Keller’s sermon was that when you find yourself in a dry season, you can’t afford to ignore it and coast.    He said that some people get blindsided when they hit periods of dryness, doubts, darkness, and deadness; and if they don’t take pro-active steps toward overcoming it,   it overtakes their thinking and their intellect.      The people who felt that they were unsure they were still Christians  were the ones who didn’t get back on the rails again.    Keller said if you don’t feel like you are getting anything out of worship, prayer, or Bible Study,   don’t miss it!    Keller didn’t come out and say this, but I think it is true:    if you truly seek God, you will eventually find Him.  
     
    Another thought is one that springs off of what Keller said about the importance of seeing to your physical condition.     Sometimes, however …I would like to submit, we are not totally in control of our physical condition.       I remember well a very dry season I went through when I was in my mid-twenties.    I had only been married for about four months, and  was pregnant….and oh so sick….not just morning sickness, but all-day sickness with hardly any release from it.    I have so much sympathy for Princess Kate right now, because I had the problem she is now enduring.    Later in my life (when I became a medical transcriber), I learned the medical term for it:   hyperemesis gravidarum.     My husband had to work, and there was concern that I shouldn’t be by myself and so sick.    So we hired a friend of a friend, a little Jewish lady named Edna,  to come and stay with me and do light housework (because I wasn’t capable of doing any!)    I felt so rotten, I am sure I was not exemplifying my best attitudes at all.    Edna played the perfect role of a Job’s friend by saying things like “Where is all that strong faith you are always talking about?!”    I knew her criticism was undoubtedly head-on, but if I had not needed her help so bad,  I would have sent her packing!     
     
    My second pregnancy was even worse — that time I ended up in the hospital with IVs running, as I couldn’t keep down even water or my vitamin pill.   Unfortunately I didn’t get any sympathy from my OB doctor, who stood at the foot of my hospital bed, viewing the IVs and said, “Well,  enjoy your lunch!”     Both of those pregnancies were tough, but at 4 1/2 months,  the hormone that was causing my problem would decrease and I would amazingly spring to life again.  I ended up delivering like greased lightning!     Spiritually, the first pregnancy was harder, because it was a new experience.   I felt so abandoned by God,  and I had my Job’s taunter making me feel guilty on top of it all.    I remember worrying that maybe underneath it all I was just a fake Christian.   For the second pregnancy, we hired a different woman to come and take care of our first-born daughter and myself.   Spiritually it helped to know that God had seen me successfully  through one pregnancy, and so I was able to tell myself that He would do it again!      
     

    1. Deanna, what a story! OH…the trials you went through with both of those pregnancies…and Edna (!) I love this, “I ended up delivering like greased lightning!” – that made me laugh…not my experience trying to deliver:))

    2. I have to add my words to Susan’s, Deanna.   Your pregnancy stories are surely times of difficulty that understandably led to a period of spiritual dryness and yes, I so agree, that while we would like to change our physical conditions…..there are times when we can’t!   I also laughed at the ‘greased lightening’ description…..very opposite of mine which were much more like ‘slower than molasses in January’ … but my pregnancies were great….felt better, while pregnant (no migraines) than when I wasn’t.  I’ve noticed this ‘trade off’ sometimes happens…..but every woman’s story surely is unique.   

  31. 15. ONE THING THAT IS INTERESTING TO ME, IS KELLER REFERS TO PEOPLE WHO SO BACKED AWAY FROM GOD IN THE MIDST OF PAIN THAT THEY ARE NOT SURE THEY ARE CHRISTIANS. WHAT THOUGHTS DO YOU HAVE ON THIS?  I don’t have too many thoughts because I can’t even imagine the horror of wondering if I am a Christian when I am in the midst of pain.  I haven’t always understood the pain or how God “fit into the picture” — but after I understood the Gospel, I haven’t doubted I’m a Christian.  I do believe it can happen though; and that’s why it’s important to know Scripture, to be defensive.  (I don’t particularly want to stretch my brain or my emotions to try to understand the position of doubting one’s Christianity right now— might be able to better do some perspective taking at another time)
     
    My take-aways (gone much of  tomorrow so answering tonight):  Air bubbles 🙂   I didn’t know what made waterfalls roar (not sure that the vibrations due to closing of the surface is absolutely correct because I didn’t study it in depth, but I like the image). When I feel as if I’m drowning amidst the roar of waterfalls, I know that roar is part of deep calling to deep.  God is speaking to me by giving me life and breath — air bubbles!Also, the cures Keller talked about — both listening to and talking to one’s heart.  Analyzing where my hope is and then shifting it — saying to God “I am relocating my glory, my hope in and to You.”
     

    1. Renee, I like your take-away…about the air bubbles! And, “When I feel as if I’m drowning amidst the roar of waterfalls, I know that roar is part of deep calling to deep.”

  32. 4. Find another causal factor to depression in verse 4.
     
    The psalmist is remembering how he “used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God” and how this was such a joyous experience. But for some reason, he can no longer do this. It doesn’t say what prevents him – is he sick, is he too sad to join in at this time, has something happened that this no longer occurs? (I know there were times when God’s people were attacked…God would bring His judgment by allowing an invading army to have victory over them) But depression can be a result of feeling all alone, friendless, isolated, loss of the companionship of loved ones.
     
    5. Often, when facing an enormous trial, we want to withdraw. Have you felt that way? Why is that one of the worst things you can do?
     
    I think it depends on the reason for withdrawing. (I read the comments-there was some great discussion on withdrawing) If it is to come away for a time by yourself, to contemplate, to shut out other distractions and voices that may be giving the wrong advice, to reflect and inquire of God, then, for a time, I think it is appropriate to do so.
    However, my own tendency can be to withdraw because I feel hurt and I am overtaken by self-pity. Here’s an example. I joined a Bible study at my church this Fall. It’s a rather large group of women, and I’d say the majority are age 60 and over. I got the feeling that these women have studied together before, with this same leader, and they all seemed to know each other. There are maybe 5 or 6 ladies around my age, and they all knew each other. Some of the older ladies are neighbors and long-time friends…I picked that up as we all introduced ourselves that first day. Immediately I felt like the “odd one out”, and wondered if I would ever have the kind of close and long-time friends like some of these ladies have with each other. When class was over and many were talking to each other, I almost started to cry and I hurried out, thinking “I don’t think I’m going to come back next week.” But I have returned. The wise thing to do is not to use the study first and foremost to make friends anyway, but to learn about God and to focus on other ladies and appreciate them for who they are and learn from their wisdom. I wish it wasn’t so hard to “break in” at churches to friendship groups that are already established. But I am really coming to know and like my teacher – she’s a really neat lady and we celebrated her birthday this week in class and I was really touched by the outpouring of love from all the ladies who have known her for a long time.

    1. Good for you, Susan, to persevere.  It is easy to feel excluded when everyone is familiar and friendly with each other…it had to be difficult to go back, so glad you did.  I love how your priority is the study rather than fellowship and friendship, which would be nice and may eventually come but is not your prime objective.  It again emphasizes the importance in welcoming and being inclusive to new visitors, participants, etc., many would not continue/come back as you did, many will simply no longer attend.

    2. I’m also touched by your decision to keep attending and to put the focus on the study, Susan….and I have been in that same position at times. Praying that this is an opening for you to get to know some women better though too.  

    3. Susan I have been in similar situations as well as you described and for me it was self pity in action. Oh I am so grateful we can recognize those things and I am so blessed to hear you returned. I know the Lord would not want to give us those thoughts so I can only recognize the enemy at work, and my thought is if we bow to those feelings we are bowing to him and missing a blessing or a period of much needed growth. 
      I served in youth group for a period of 5 years and the spirit of rejection fell on me hard. I remember crying for the first few months as it was so intense at times. I really had to fight it. I am so glad I persevered and kept returning rather than quitting. I think I had things from my own High School  days that I had to work thru. I was so blessed for the period of time I served in that ministry.
       

      1. Liz, you bring out something important – that many times a current situation is stirring up unresolved pain from the past, like rejection. I’m glad you persevered, too.

  33. 6. If you are, indeed, withdrawing, talk to your soul and tell her some of the ways being with Christian brethren has encouraged you in the past.
     
    I kind of answered this in #5…when I recently felt like never going back to my Bible study because I felt sorry for myself. But, one of the ways I was SO encouraged this week was, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I have witnessed a lot recently and heard with my ears a lot of ugly words that should never be said, not to anyone and especially not to your family. So when I walked into class this week and some of the ladies who know our teacher well had planned this surprise birthday party for her with food, flowers, cards, and I witnessed our teacher’s tears and I really felt like God was blessing me to be a part of this time, to see what is right and good and lovely and praiseworthy about relationships, to get a glimpse of how it’s supposed to look – love for one another.
     
    7. Now, in Psalm 42:5, the psalmist does something very wise. He takes his soul in hand and asks him a question. What is it?
     
    He asks his soul, “Why are you downcast…why so disturbed within me?” This brings “talking to yourself” to an entirely new level…it is really struggling, I see, to uncover the root of the despair and the discouragement.
     
    8. For those who have been through our idolatry study, what do you think he is really asking his soul?
     
    Soul, what is it that you think you must have in order to be happy, in order to have comfort and security, in order to have power and control, in order to have the approval of others? Are you fretting and despairing because it is slipping away from your grasp or has already been taken away? What have you made your heart’s desire other than God? To whom or to what are you looking to to give you what you long for? Who or what is your “savior”? Is it God, or one of His gifts that you have made your “god”?

    1. Susan – what a lovely thing to share…..about your teacher’s birthday celebration!  I feel like you could have been plunged further into despair by comparing all that was “good” with all that is not so good elsewhere in your life…but instead the Lord led you to see this almost as a special “gift” to you!!  This testifies to His greatness and to your openness to Him!  To say nothing of His tender and specific love for YOU!  He tailored just what you needed and then opened your eyes to see it…..marvelous.

      1. AMEN to Jackie’s words to you, Susan.  When I read your first post about the birthday celebration, I was still wondering why that encouraged you.  I thought it would have made me feel less included.  But, the second comment told me that you saw much deeper; the love of the women there and the humility and Christ-likeness in the teacher.  I hope you are able to connect with her on a personal level too.  So sweet.

        1. Wanda, you just made me think of one of my favorite verses in Ephesians 1:13, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” I felt very blessed that day to be included among these women!

      2. So true, Jackie…it could’ve made me despair even further, but God had me see this as such a blessing…I just sat and observed what was going on and thought, “Wow…this is what love and relationship is supposed to look like.” He meant it to encourage me.

  34. Sermon Notes-  I won’t rehash specific notes as Deanna already outlined the sermon so well. (Deanna, your talent as a medical transcriptionist definitely shows in your sermon notes! Always beautifully done and helpful, thank you.) A few things that stood out that haven’t been mentioned yet.
     
    I really appreciate this talk of “response to spiritual dryness.” The affirmation that if we have examined our life and found no sin then its ok to have periods of spiritual dryness, you do not have to assume blame for what is happening but keep going to God even if you don’t feel anything. You must listen to your heart to know where its false hopes lie. Then you can speak specific truth to it to relocate your glory, hope, significance, rest. (I think longsuffering is a big part of this. We often deploy the cures but when nothing happens we get discouraged and we let that spiritual dryness turn into doubt. Keep walking, keep going to Him, even if you feel nothing.)
     
    You must preach to your heart – an essential skill. You will never get out of spiritual dryness unless you learn to do this. If you respond to spiritual dryness right you won’t just “get back on track” you will end up  way down the track. You will have major growth.

  35. 9. What, according to verse 5, does he tell his soul to do?
     
    He tells his soul to put his hope in God, to know that he will again praise him. To remember that God is his Savior and his God.

  36. 15. One thing that is interesting to me, is Keller refers to people who so backed away from God in the midst of pain that they are not sure they are Christians. what thoughts do you have on this? I cannot remember specifically when Keller said this but I do remember him referring to people who had backed away when they were feeling nothing and found themselves in a place where they just weren’t sure.  Kind of like the joy of the Lord was a distant memory … ‘Was it a dream?’ And so they are ambivalent (is that the right word?) about their true beliefs because last they knew the stream was dry and they had not found it again (but also stopped searching). I think this happens to many. They seek God with expectations, with disillusionment of “how it SHOULD be.” And when they find the road different they are confused and hurt. They stop going because they just can’t reconcile their expectations of God/Christianity and the reality (sometimes the stream is dry). Instead of pressing in and seeing what happens they quit trying. They don’t necessarily denounce their faith they just don’t give it any credence…. kind of a like a broken down car that gets forgotten because none wanted to fix it up again. ?

  37. 16. What is your take-a-way and why? I have been thinking on our withdrawal conversation. In my life I see a difference between withdrawing from people and wanting to withdrawal from a situation and withdrawing from God.
     
    People: I withdraw from people in order to buffer myself emotionally and mentally while dealing with something or not, and to stay emotionally healthy. I feel there is a cultural expectation to get together with severe regularity or my friendship abilities are criticized.  But God has taught me to just wait, to be sensitive both to my emotional health (another introvert here, though only “moderate” per Meyers-Briggs) but also to His leading to engage with others, friends or strangers or acquaintances. This is a new practice that God has been teaching me in the last 6 months. This is not an excuse to not make effort to be a part of the assembly.
     
    Situationally: Psalm 55:6-8 “And I say, “oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.” I do desire to escape situations/challenges/hardships (and people can sometimes be situations/challenges/hardships). This is why I loved the sermon – to keep walking even in spiritual dryness… heaven knows I do not feel the streams overflowing spiritually when I encounter another (daily) frustrating trial! While I know Keller’s point was more for a life season I saw it as very practical for my everyday bouts of spiritual dryness when I try to flee my situation rather than embrace the gift of hardship and keep walking, keep seeking, keep preaching, keep reading even when I am feeling nothing. Soul talk!
     
    Withdrawing from God: As much as I want to pull back from people and situations I do not think that I pull back from God. Before Song of Songs I would imagine just puling into a box and having everything/one leave me alone and I could come out when it was all nicey-nice again. But after Song of Songs I realize that He holds me, He bounds to me. I do keep seeking Him even when I am feeling nothing. And He comes, He bounds to me, He answers, He encourages. I am amazed at Him teaching me to keep on walking through fire, to give Him my burden so I may rest.
     
    I took away a lot more from this week but this is where my thoughts were this morning.

  38. 15. One thing that is interesting to me, is Keller refers to people who so backed away from God in the midst of pain that they are not sure they are Christians. what thoughts do you have on this?
    I think that it emphasizes the dire, devastating possibilities if spiritual dryness/drought is left to continue without any action.  I can imagine how the distance will continue to grow with eventually no thought, care, or awareness of God on the part of the one suffering the dryness/drought.  It would be similar to allowing a cavity to go unfilled…eventually the destruction to the mouth will be amplified to a devastating point.  It is critical that rather than turning away from God in times of dryness/drought, the turn is toward God, making sure that hope is in God rather than other false hopes or idols.
     
    This is another wonderful, Keller sermon…I would say one of the best in my perspective.

  39. 16. What is your take-a-way and why?
     
    First of all,   I want to say how happy I am to be back in the Psalms!!     I’m also delighted that this week I was able to see the study through, from beginning to end,  pretty much on time all the way.   Such a remarkable difference from my previous abysmal week!     Many of my take-aways are all the touching items Dee posted at the begininng about Steve.   His contemplative photo will be  an image I will bring up in my mind  forever, I think. Then, not surprisingly,  I found  Dr. Keller’s sermon to be superb — such wonderful  instruction for Christians, both new and old.    It is so good to be able to tuck Keller’s profound guidance into our minds and our hearts now — for none of us know when our very souls may depend upon it someday!        

    1. Glad to hear you had a great week, Deanna!  Uneventful can be wonderful.  

  40. Dee, I wanted you to know that my friend and I are working through Idol Lies together… This book and the truth that is in it is turning our lives upside down, but I believe it is necessary and Freedom is at stake.  I hope to lead a group of women through it in the future, but I am having to “flesh” this one out myself first before I share it with others…I hope to show others that Freedom is possible through Jesus Christ.    Thank you so much for your ministry and what you are doing in the lives of women… Love in Christ, Kim

  41. Testing……testing.

    Have triggered the security box about 6 times now….over several hours. May not get my takeaway posted.
     

  42. Takeaway:    I am also so glad to be back in the psalms and I have learned so much from these two.  I never understood ‘deep calls to deep’ until I came to this blog.  Also, talking to our souls.  Though it makes perfect sense, and I knew the concept of  self talk and self intervention  from a counseling standpoint.  Speaking truth to my soul is a richer, deeper, more hopeful discipline.  And I am getting better at it!  And praying the psalms.  I hope I will keep learning this the rest of my life.  Keller’s sermon was excellent.  I knew it would be and asked my husband to listen along.  We had Deanna’s notes at hand!   Interestingly, I recently read the quote from Martin Lloyd-Jones in Phillip Yancey’s book, Prayer, too to the effect that ‘the greatest cause for spiritual depression is listening to our souls and not talking to them.’  (quick paraphrase as I’m rushing off to work).   Keller gave such practical ways to do that.  Thanks for another splendid week.  So much gained here.

    Whew! It finally posted. I saw the red security box on and off all afternoon and finally decided to re-work my comment 🙂

  43. Tim Kellers sermon was very good. Oh I would have so many people I would want to share this with. I do not want to be the woman shaking her finger though:) In all honestly with the best of intentions or at least I THOUGHT they were I have been that woman. I am so grateful I have had very mild spiritual dryness periods but never fooled to think this could not come on in a stronger intensity. I am grateful to hear the plan of action one can use when encountered with it. To press in, to continue the disciplines regardless. Yes I have been there knowing I must persevere. Maybe that is where my good intentions come from with others when I am encouraging them to keep going. I really think it is. I know I have to be more sensitive. I was grateful to be reminded of the pain matching of experiences (Nila I shared my story within a response to the story of losing your child:( Please forgive me. I do get blue at times and especially at the age that I am at with hormonal imbalances I find myself talking to my soul asking why I am cast down. I will yet praise Him and the Power of the praise is amazing. I am not denying my feelings I am praising thru them. I am so excited to dive more into Idol Lies as part of asking what I may be resting in what idol and reshifting my Hope back to the Lord. All powerful stuff.Thinking about the grace of God and turning it into a song. Music speaks to my soul so loudly yet so softly. It was very interesting to hear a lot of the communications of challenges gong on in some of your churches. I have been at the same church for 19 years. I have seen a great Exodus after a few different very difficult happenings but never felt the Lord release me to go. I have to say that was very challenging to me and very sad to see so many people go many who never said good bye or kept contact after they left. I still work through those feelings. It was interesting to hear Tim Keller talk about that for his church that if you are there long enough you will see a total change in the community of who attend there and you have to regroup yourself or something to that effect  I did not restate that very well but it spoke to me. I also cannot be looking back at those yesterday communities but have to be in the now and do some regrouping myself with more soul talk as of lately I have been back struggling with it a bit. God is still on the throne and He is in control Praise God I am not! With that being said I am going to sign off and pray a special prayer for each of my sisters here that the Lord will direct us to just where we need to be and I do agree with Tim Keller we need to be in a body of believers. I KNOW from what I have heard here you all have so much to give and offer to others. You have already given much to me:) I pray my words come across in love for it is in love I intend them to be. Have a Blessed Sunday. 

    1. Liz, your precious heart shines through more than I think you realize…your comments are a blessing to all.  Blessings to you, dear sister…thank you for your encouraging comments.

    2. Really good thoughts, Liz.  ‘not to be fooled into thinking it could not come on in a stronger intensity’   and to have a plan of action ready.  That is surely true of me too.  I remember one such very intense time and I did not know this teaching. I hope that after hearing and working through the principles, I can be more ready next time.   (and yes….we probably won’t forget ‘the finger shaking’ person along the way either.  🙂  

  44. 10. In verse 7 we have the famous phrase “deep calls to deep”. What water image is it paired with? What do you know about the roar of waterfalls that would go with “deep calling to deep”?
     
    There has already been a lot of in-depth researching and commenting about this…I find as I read others’ comments and did a little searching on the internet of my own, that this is a very complicated phrase! I found a couple of Spurgeon’s commentaries online, a couple of quotes from him, “Everywhere where there is one deep, it calls to another, and especially in the spiritual world every vast and sublime truth has its correspondent, which, like another deep, calls to it responsively.” He talked about how, for example, the sinful and depraved condition of man (one deep) is answered by another deep – divine mercy and grace.
     
    Also interesting is in some translations, waterfall is “waterspout”. So Spurgeon describes the waters from above coming down and agitating the waters of the ocean below. When I think of a waterfall, I imagine that the tremendous roar comes when all that water pouring down the waterfall collides with the waters at the bottom. Spurgeon also said of David, “Outside were fights, within were fears; deep called unto deep…”
     
    This is so hard to grasp with my mind…the “roar” of the waterfall or waterspout, the agitation, the churning…certainly we can be in times of great inner and outer turmoil. Yet, I can also sense it as more of a resounding voice…God speaking to us deep in our hearts, and His voice coming to us over the noise of the turmoil…His voice calling to our soul.
     
    10. The fourth water image is both negative and positive, though I for so long only saw it as negative. Find it in this same verse.
     
    The fourth water image is waves and billows, “all Your waves and billows/breakers have swept over me.”
     
    A. How could this water image be negative? – Negative in the sense of feeling like you are drowning – in trials, sorrows, disappointment, pain. It says “Your” waves…indicating these are sent by God. Sometimes our feelings tell us that God is angry at us and He is punishing us, though untrue…He may send discipline and allow pain, but it is not to “punish” the believer, because Jesus already took our punishment.
     
    B. Verse 7 paired with verse 8 shows how this water image could be positive. What do you see?
     
    Verse 8 says, “By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me…” – this makes me think of the tides of the ocean. The tide comes in, it goes out. There is a rhythm to it. Because the psalmist has just said in verse 7, “all your waves and breakers have swept over me” and then immediately after talks about God’s love and presence with him, it says to me that he doesn’t feel abandoned or rejected by God. Verse 7 makes me think of crashing waves – everything out of control, yet verse 8 introduces order and everything in control-in God’s control. If waves and breakers have swept over me, then they will also recede. But, I also see a positive water image in that God’s waves and breakers sweeping over me gives me a mental picture of just letting go, and in the letting go I am committing myself entirely into His hands and He is not drowning me with these waves, He is overwhelming me with waves of His love. Always makes me think of the hymn, “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPXapfFfesA.
     
    Some of the lyrics are certainly positive water images: O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free! Rolling as a mighty ocean, in its fullness over me!
    Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love…”

    1. Susan…..thank you for the reminder of ‘oh the deep deep love of Jesus’.    As I was skimming your words first, I caught enough of them to have the hymn pop into mind and now I see you posted the link.  I am opening it in just a minute.    Wonderful descriptions in your comments above.

  45. 11. Watch this and comment on it. What images from Psalm 42 do you find? Other thoughts?
     
    I liked this song and had never heard it before. The lyrics included the phrase as deep cries out to deep. This song was filled with positive water images…if you are thirsty, then dip your heart in the stream of life, and waves of His mercy coming as deep cries out to deep. Here I see the waves coming as being rescuing waves, which is also a sense I have about verse 7, that the waves and breakers sweeping over me may be overwhelming troubles, and yet they may be waves of His love and mercy sweeping in to the rescue! And then, I don’t picture drowning in those kinds of waves, but rather floating with the buoyancy of His love keeping me afloat.
     
    12. Read Psalm 43. What do you see?
     
    The continuing struggle between doubt, fear, feelings of being rejected by God, and yet continuing to hope in Him. Even though he asks why have you rejected me, he asks to be guided to the place where God dwells, and he calls God his joy and his delight. He continues the dialogue with his soul, asking his soul again why it is so downcast and talking to his soul, telling his soul to put hope in God.
     
    13. Why must we at times keep repeating the same truths to our souls?
     
    Well, I am a slow learner, and I can take one step forward and then one step back. I don’t think on this side of heaven I will ever arrive at the place of never having fears, doubts, and insecurities, and I don’t expect to live a life free of trials and pain. My emotions will always want to guide me into error and away from the truth. Sigh…I’m already getting tired of thinking of the never ending struggle!

  46. praise your,mighty work ..thank you for its message