Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. (Psalms 43:5)
A thermometer shows the temperature, but a thermostat sets the temperature. As a child of God I can reflect the climate of the circumstances I am in, or I can choose to see the situation from God’s perspective and set my heart accordingly. In Psalms 42-43 we find a man in great difficulty and tempted to be a thermometer reacting to his environment with despair. Instead, he decides to be a thermostat by rejoicing in the hope he has in God. Here is how it is done.
Let sorrow give way to song (Ps.42:1-5). You can be DEDICATED THOUGH DISTRESSED IN TEARFUL TIMES. Imagine a deer relentlessly pursued by hunters–the hounds hot on its trail–panting for water and strength to escape. That describes the writer of this psalm. Maybe it’s how you feel today. Trouble is chasing you and you need help. One of the dangers at this point is to try to find wisdom by drinking from the world’s polluted streams. The Psalmist chooses to seek God–who alone can satisfy the thirst of our soul. There is where hope is found. Each stanza ends with that affirmation (42:5,11; 43:5).
See storms give way to sunshine (Ps.42:6-11). You can be DETERMINED THOUGH DEPRESSED IN TROUBLED TIMES. The psalmist is sinking fast. Troubled times have come–like waves relentlessly breaking over him, threatening to drown him in despair. Yet, he speaks of “Your waterfalls” and “Your waves,” recognizing the sovereignty of God in the storms. God has a purpose (see Rom.8:28). If the problems are permitted then we know He has a higher good in mind. The same sovereign God commands His lovingkindness to come, as the writer cries out for help. God is the Rock he can stand on. A shaft of sunshine–radiant hope–breaks through the clouds. Despite how he feels, he makes a choice, “I will remember” (42:6); “I will say” (42:9); “I will go to the altar…I will praise” (43:4). Where there is a will there is a way.
See strife give way to serenity (43:1-5). You can be DELIVERED THOUGH DISTURBED IN TOUGH TIMES. The sacred writer uses the language of the courtroom to plead his case (v.1). Still, it seemed God was oblivious to his plight (v.2). He knew that only the light of truth could be a beacon to bring him out of the darkness of despair (v.3). In John Bunyan’s, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” Christian is imprisoned in Doubting Castle, held by a giant named Despair, when he escapes by using the key of promise. Such is the power of the Word to free us! The light on his path would lead the way to the house of God, where he would offer sacrifices of delight and songs of deliverance (v.4). There hope is found despite the situation (v.5). The house of God is the place to calibrate your thermostat (read Heb.10:24-25). If you stay away, you may be sure the world will set your temperature, and you will cool off spiritually.
Will you be a thermometer or a thermostat?
Dennis Thurman has pastored churches in Western North Carolina for 36 years. Currently, he is Senior Pastor of Pole Creek Baptist Church where he has served for almost 20 years. Married to Marilyn for 40 years, they have 5 children and 11 grandchildren.
This article was originally posted on Dennis’ blog, Mountain Top Musings