When Our Soul is Downcast

Rain often brings disappointment. It spoiled many special occasions when I
was a child. The most disheartening was the annual outing to William Land
Park over Easter Vacation to picnic, visit the Sacramento Zoo, and Fairytale
Town.

When you are looking forward to something, only to have it canceled,
disappointment can be overwhelming.

On my wedding day, the venue was the garden at my parent’s home.
The ceremony was to take place on the expansive front lawn and afterwards
guests would gather at small tables throughout the yard for a buffet, wedding
cake with a champagne toast, and dancing to a band. However, rain spoiled
our plans. People did gather under umbrellas for our vows. And the pianist,
who escorted the bridal party to the altar, and the folk singer who sang a few
special songs, took shelter on the front porch. But the reception was moved
to a drab, local hall.

When you have developed a vision of the perfect scenario in your head, or
invested much time and creativity into the planning, changes are disappointing.

But if God is sovereign over the clouds in the sky and whether or not they
bring rain upon the earth what does my disappointment reveal?

These seem like minor disappointments but not to a young child or a bride on
her wedding day.

My tendency is to fight against emotions such as disappointment, to “keep a
stiff upper lip” or “keep my chin up,” which are just idioms that describe a
coverup. What God wants us to do when we are disheartened is to run to Him.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to be disheartened is to lose hope,
enthusiasm, or courage. To lose our spirit or morale.

In the Psalms, the descendants of Korah referred to such an outlook as a
“downcast soul.”

In 2 Corinthians chapter seven, the Apostle Paul speaks of circumstances that
cause him to battle emotions. But then he tells us something marvelous about
God. He says that God comforts the downcast. Paul was comforted when God
sent Titus with good news about a troubling matter. Many times, God has used
people to restore my good mood. To know that when I am downcast I can count on
God to respond in love gives me great freedom to be myself, not denying or
suppressing what is in my heart.

We think we become more Christlike when we have some change from within.
For example, rain no longer disappoints us when it destroys our plans. But
perhaps Christlikeness more often comes when our perspective on God shifts
and we see Him for who He is.

When overcome with negative feelings and emotions the descendants of
Korah asked: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within
me?” (Psalm 42:5) They asked the question not to find the reason for their
emotions but to remind themselves they could trust God. “Hope in God,”
was their self-talk. There was no need to be downcast or disturbed for they
could count on God to show up in a way that would bring praises to their
lips.

Eugene Peterson expresses this idea well in THE MESSAGE: The Bible in
Contemporary Language.

Plasm 42:5
Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God-
soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
He’s my God.

Contemplate Your Ways:

1-What causes your soul to be downcast? 1 Thessalonians 5:18 exhorts us
to give thanks in all circumstances. Do we suppress our emotions in order
to do this or instead do we look at the attributes of God?

2-How has your view of God changed as you study the Bible and apply
God’s Word to your life?