“Why Are You Downcast, O My Soul?”

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?1 The ones who raised this question three times in rapid succession themselves give the answer too: “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.”

Seasons of discouragement come to the best of people. Those who trust in God also do pass through the valley of darkness occasionally. During such times human help often fails. People who used to give us godly counsel struggle to find the right words to encourage our spirits during such times.

The first thing to remember during such times of difficulty is that God is not finished with us yet. He still has a plan and a future for us however dark the situation appears to be.

Therefore the authors of these Psalms found courage to say, “For I will yet praise him.” That is the beauty of having a future look. Looking ahead with hope that God will step in and pull us out of deep pits of depression is an act of faith.

Such faith does not allow oneself to spend time in self-pity. It does not brood over past failures. But instead such faith fixes its eye on God alone. “For all other ground is sinking sand,” as one hymn writer has put it.

As one holds on to God during dark times in life, a miraculous change comes in. God will give the people who mourn a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.2 Yes, God acknowledges the reality that we often get discouraged and fall into a spirit of despair.

But that is not where God wants us to be. He wants us to step out of it. One example is that of David. He, when all his men were talking of stoning him, in great distress “found strength in the Lord his God.”3

The authors of the Psalms mentioned above were doing the same thing. They were encouraging themselves in the time of great discouragement to put their hope in the Lord.

Therefore do not yield to despair and give up. God knows the difficult times you are passing through. He “longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion”4 He will be gracious to you when you cry for help and he shall answer your prayers.

So do not lose heart. “Hold the fort” as another hymn writer has put it. There is no need to be downcast or disturbed. You will surely find God’s help and you will yet praise him. He is your Saviour and your God!

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Bible references:
*1 Three times in Psalm 42 and 43 the Sons of Korah who composed these Psalms asked the question.
2 Isaiah 61:1—3
3 1 Samuel 30:6
4 Isaiah 30:18

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