What do you call someone who talks to themselves all the time? I’m not talking about asking yourself where you left your keys; we all do that. I mean someone who literally has full conversations with themselves as if they were not one individual, but two separate people. We usually call those people crazy.
Christians should be a bit nuts. We should be people who talk to ourselves on a regular basis. Why do I think so? Because the Bible tells me. So there.
In Psalm 42, the author talks to himself over and over again. What makes him do that? Is he crazy? Maybe not. The psalmist in verses 1-4 thirsts for God like a deer thirsts for cool waters. Whatever he is going through has brought him to the point where his tears have been his food and drink. He is in a dark place, spiritually. What’s worse is he can remember the mountain top. He can remember when he was close to God and life was going well. Now he is in a place of despair and emptiness.
So what does he do? He talks to himself. To you and I that may seem crazy, but in actuality what he is doing is perfectly sensible. He hears the voice of darkness and despair screaming in his ear that he is alone, that God has forsaken him. He could simply submit to those voices, or he could talk back to himself and remind himself of the truth.
“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,” (Psalm 42:5-6).
The author begins talking to himself like a crazy person. But unlike a crazy person, he is speaking sense and truth to himself. Instead of being guided by his own emotions and fears, he reminds himself of truth. He says, “Hope in God. One day I will praise him for his deliverance and help.” The word “hope” could also be translated “wait” because the idea is not blind hoping God will show up, but a faithful expectation. It’s like waiting for payday when the bills are due. You are not hoping the check will arrive, you know the money is coming, it’s just a matter of getting to Friday to receive it.
The psalmist sinks back into despair in verses 9-10, which is actually pretty encouraging. It’s not that I delight in people suffering, but it’s nice to see authors of sacred scripture struggle with their emotions and doubts just like I do. The author is earnestly questioning God, even to the point of saying God has forgotten him and is allowing him to be tormented by his enemies who taunt the author, saying “Where is your God?”
You have heard those voices in the dark, haven’t you? Either from your own mind or from the voices of your enemies, we have heard those wicked taunts. “God is not there. God doesn’t love you. You’re screwed. This is hopeless. You have got to figure this out yourself. The Lord can’t or won’t help you.”
So what do we do? We can either surrender to the voice of circumstance, fear, and doubt, or we can be a bit nuts. I hope you’ll join the psalmist in being a bit crazy and start talking to yourself, like so:
“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,” (Psalm 42:11).
The psalm ends with the author talking to himself, reminding him of the character of God, and telling himself to wait in faith. This is our challenge. When we feel like God doesn’t love us, we must tell ourselves Jesus gave his life for us, (Galatians 2:20). When we hear the voices say God is not in control, we must tell ourselves God works all things according to his will, (Ephesians 1:11). When we feel inadequate and small, we should remember Christ is our strength in our weakness, (2 Corinthians 12:9).
So I challenge you to lose your mind. Talk to yourself when you are overwhelmed with worry, doubt, and fear. Tell yourself the truth of God’s character. Remind yourself of God’s Word. Be a little crazy. You have to be in order to preserve your faith in God.