Flowers, perfume, books, time alone, music, a night out with Dave and friends, an afternoon nap, an amazing dinner. This Mother’s Day weekend was beyond ideal, so by 7 pm why was I feeling down? I found myself late Sunday evening quiet, reflective and discouraged.
The Lord brought this verse to mind: “Why are you downcast, 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.” –Psalm 42:11
My circumstances certainly were not lacking, unlike the author of this Psalm. Looking further in Psalm 42 and 43, we see that He found himself desperate for the Lord as he was taunted by those around him, challenging his belief in the power of God. He was longing to return to the temple, to worship the living God and he described himself as downcast.
down·cast /ˈdounˌkast’/ adjective -(of a person) feeling despondent.
Synonyms: despondent, disheartened, discouraged, downhearted, crestfallen, despairing
He acknowledges his circumstance, his season, and he fights to not let it drive his soul, his emotions. He acknowledges his desires, his need for the Lord, his feelings but then immediately speaks truth about the Lord- what the Lord does, who the Lord is. He recalls the goodness of the Lord from times past. He notes the tenderness of the Lord- “By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night His song is with me” (vs. 8). He meets with experience with truth.
He meets his emotions with truth. He speaks truth about his future- knowing that again he will praise him. That’s brave. He, in the midst of his suffering and anguish, speaks hope- “I shall again praise you”. Hope isn’t something we see but it’s being certain of what we don’t see- (Hebrews 11:1). He looks around and sees a bleak landscape, peers jeering, mocking him. But he hopes…not in himself or his circumstances, but in the Lord, who does not change (Malachi 3:6)—that is why he can be certain.
But where does that leave me this Mother’s Day? I’m clearly not being taunted by peers or challenged by my adversaries. When given the perfect weekend I still feel despondent, discouraged, downcast. My expectations were beyond met, so why the hurting heart?
There’s pain in the perfect because brokenness abounds. There’s discord among my people…myself…because we’re broken. Two of these little faces I mother did not begin as mine. They have a mother who very much is hurting and battling. The story of adoption begins with brokenness and it stays with us—the sandpaper rubbing against our everyday. I hurt for her, for them, for us.
I’m reminded again that no matter my circumstances, my hope must come from the Lord. He’s what hasn’t changed- I can hope in him and be certain of his character. How has he upheld me in the past? Where have I experienced his goodness? Where have I experienced his grace?
I must appeal to him- deliver me, Lord. I must trust in his ability to do this, speak aloud truth: he loves me with steadfast love, he is my rock, my deliverer, my refuge. Am I doing this? Am I just trying to muster my own failing strength as I stare brokenness in the face?
I must direct my attention to my soul: Why are you downcast, O my soul? Look up. Hope in God. Look forward. I will again praise him. Not because my circumstances may change, but because of who He is- my salvation and my God.