Rafiki Village Nigeria,
Our MOAM group has safely made it back home. I hope your school term is off to a great start. I trust Enoch and Ethan received many great compliments on the haircut I gave them.
I wanted to take time to transparently share the struggles I’ve been fighting since leaving Saturday. In full transparency, the blanket the airline gives each passenger had to be turned into a large tissue as I struggled to control my emotions on my final flight Sunday. This was my fifth time returning from trips like this to Rafiki Villages. I have had a really hard time processing why the trips home haven’t seemed to get much easier.
As a person that really loves designing systems for every task so that things are guaranteed to be easier the next time, I’ve really struggled with accepting the reality that our walk with Christ can’t be held together by a simple system. Just because I have accepted Christ, and know He is sovereign, perfect, all powerful, always present, and loves me fully does not mean that I always remember that. These past 2 days have really challenged me to apply the 5 Principles we taught throughout the 3 weeks of sports. We can know the principles, believe them, and even teach others the principles, but that doesn’t mean we will always automatically apply them to our life.
These past 2 days have reminded me that we must continuously remind ourselves what we know to be true. Part of the reason I am writing this letter is because it is forcing me to ‘meditate not medicate’ like Ashton taught us when she spoke on Principle 4. I have found myself very tempted to simply dive back into the busyness of work and friendships back here at home, but I know that God wants me to press through these trials by leaning into Him, not worldly distractions.
When I returned home on Sunday, I listened to a very timely sermon from the church I attend. I wanted to share how the sermon helped me as I hope that it may help you with any discouragement or trials you face. The sermon was on Psalm 42. Through studying this Psalm, my Pastor identified 7 ways the Psalmist responds to discouragement and depression throughout Psalm 42. I’ve listed the 7 ways below along with some additional takeaways from the sermon.
1 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. 5 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 6 and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. 8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” 10 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 11 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.
7 ways the Psalmist responds to discouragement and depression
- He is not afraid to ask, “WHY?”
- We must quit acting like God cannot handle our tough questions or frustrations. Yes we must accept and submit to His authority and rule, but that doesn’t mean we cannot cry out to Him when things do not make sense.
- He affirms God’s sovereign love. (v. 8)
- I love how the Psalms are filled with affirmations of who God is. Even David had to continuously remind himself of what he knew to be true. Again, just because we know who God is, doesn’t mean we always fully understand it is true.
- He sings! (v. 4)
- I know each of you are FULLY aware that my voice is far from being the voice of an angel, but we do not have to be the best singers or writers. God has already given us a full book of Psalms to recite and hymns to sing to help us refocus our minds on truth. The very Word of God can help us explain the struggles we are experiencing.
- He preaches to his own soul. (v. 5 & v. 11)
I love this quote from Martin Lloyd-Jones - “I say that we must talk to ourselves instead of allowing “ourselves” to talk to us! Do you realize what that means? I suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self. Am I just trying to be deliberately paradoxical? Far from it. This is the very essence of wisdom in this matter. Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you in the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s [David in Psalms 42:5, 11] treatment is this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: “Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.” Do you know what I mean? If you do not, you have had but little experience.
The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: “Why art thou cast down” – what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: “Hope thou in God” – instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and What God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.”
We must talk to ourselves, instead of allowing our emotions talk to us!
- He remembers his past experiences. (v. 4)
- Let us remember God’s faithfulness! For me this has meant reminding myself that it is the same God who allowed me the incredible privilege of spending 3 weeks with you guys in Nigeria that is with me amidst the sadness I’ve felt since returning home. In particular the Psalmist here remembers his times of worshipping God with others. I often got goosebumps during our time of worshipping our Savior, the risen Lord Jesus Christ together the past 3 Friday nights because you guys helped me and each other remember God’s faithfulness. There is nothing more dangerous than isolating ourselves. We NEED each other. Shared sorrow equals half the sorrow!
- He thirsts for God. (v. 1)
- Notice he is not thirsting for relief from the problem but is thirsting for God. Let us remember from Principle 4 that God promises to use trials for our good and His glory. Our good does not equal our happiness, but rather our holiness. God desires to transform us into the image of Jesus, and will use trials to accomplish this. There is nothing wrong with wanting relief from pain and suffering, but let us not fix our eyes on deliverance from problems, but rather the strength to endure them for His glory.
- He hopes in God. (v. 5, v. 11)
- This is not a hope that involves uncertainty such as wishing for something good to happen, but Biblical hope IN GOD involves certainty and confident expectation of what we hope for since God is the object of our hope. Not each other, but God. If Drew or Marea or Ashton or Adam are the object of our hope, we really can’t have full certainty about what will happen since we are sinners capable of failing each other. But with God as the object of my hope, I can have certainty that I will see you again even if I do not make it back to Nigeria. With God as the object of our hope, we can have confident expectation that He will give us the strength to endure all things (even burpees)
Thank you again for allowing our group to spend 3 weeks with you and helping me grow in my own relationship with Christ. I pray that each of us will continue pursuing Christ in any and every situation we experience. Do not allow trials and suffering to discourage you. As we heard from one of the videos during devotions ‘Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face.’ It is during these times of difficulty we must refocus our minds on what we know to be true about God, what God says is true about us, and what He promises will happen.
Principle 1: God alone is worthy of your worship.
Principle 2: God’s love moves you from fear to freedom.
Principle 3: God provides His Word and the Holy Spirit to help you grow.
Principle 4: God redeems suffering for our good and his glory.
Principle 5: God requires total investment today for eternal return tomorrow.
Your brother in Christ,
Drew Boe, Founder of Managers on a Mission
To God Be the Glory!
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