Teaching a Soul to Sing Again: Biblical Patterns of Soul Care

Read Psalm 77

Soul Care and Mental Health are in the news.

Ever felt like God had deserted you, like you were abandoned by the only one who could save you? Ever felt like the resources at your disposal were not up to the situation at hand? Maybe you have been in a situation that made you doubt if God was on your team? Perhaps you have been through a season of anxiety where panic seemed to surround your heart and you can see no way of escape? You’re not alone. 

You might want to spend some time in Psalm 77. Asaph wrote about such a time, such feelings. This morning was warm enough to have my devotions outside in the sunshine surrounded by the garden plots I am getting ready for planting. Twenty verses, evenly divided around a two verse pivot at the center. Asaph writes about training his heart to sing in the midst of a time when he felt deserted by God, a time when his prayers felt stale, unproductive, and unheard. We’ve all been there at some point, or will be. It’s why fighting for faith is so important and necessary.

Asaph wins his fight and the pivot of how he does it is in verses 10-11, and verse 12 is his immediate action plan for application.

10 Then I said,
        “It is my grief,

         That the right hand of the Most High has changed.

”In other words, he tells himself “Its my grief that (is causing me to think) that the right hand of the Most High has changed (towards me). His feelings of grief are real, but the feelings are not based in reality. God is the same. The Most High hasn’t changed. So he makes a decision in the second half of what I am calling “The Pivot” (v. 10-11). Everything in the Psalm turns on what he discovers in verse 10—His grief is clouding his judgment—and what he begins to do in verses 11 and 12.

11 I shall remember the deeds of Yah;
         Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
12 I will meditate on all Your work
          And muse on Your deeds.

If you read the psalm through the first 9 verses you will recognize a man living in the doubts of faith. He’s wondering where God is as he cries out to him in the night. He is troubled (v. 2), disturbed (v. 3), sleepless (v. 4), and speechless (v. 4). His is a heart that is weak. His soul is staggering. Have you ever been there? I confess that I have. And when I have been in those dark corridors, my impulse is to run to God. And just as suddenly, I can sink back into feeling like God is hiding from me. It is a terrifying roller-coaster to be on.

But verse 11 records a change. He remembers the deeds of God. He makes a decision to remember “the wonders” that God has worked in the past. He determines to meditate and muse on deeds of God’s faithfulness. The remainder of the psalm is a recitation of God’s acts in saving Israel ending finally with his conclusion in verse 20, “You led your people like a flock”. 

How often we sink into the doldrums of depression because we forget the evidences of God’s faithfulness. 

So, sitting in the sun on a warm spring day, having my devotions and reading Psalm 77, I closed my Bible, got up and began to walk around the garden, into the woods behind the house, out to the new spill way created at the west end of the pond behind my neighbors house, I began to recount to my heart every instance of God’s faithful protection and guidance (that I could remember) in my life over the last half century. Within five minutes of reciting some of them, tears of worship welled up in my eyes. I was meditating and musing on the wonder of God’s expressed love and care and darkness fled from my heart and joy rushed in to take its place.

This is an ancient path, a biblical path, a practical path to better mental health that need to recover. Knowledge of God and His works, His promises, His personal rescues and provisions, is a healing balm for the soul but it has to be consistently and constantly applied. Our souls leak but He has an ever replenishing supply of grace for all that we need.


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