“…my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long,
‘Where is your God?’”
Psalm 42:11 (NIV)
As you read Psalm 42 you quickly realise that the writer is conflicted about his situation in life. It appears that he has been oppressed for some time and the situation has brought him to constant weeping. He says, “My tears have been my food day and night,” verse 3 (NIV). He recalls the days of joy and enthusiastic worship of the Lord that are now just history. At present he cannot find God.
Then he “talks” to himself in the words of verse 5 and says, “Why are you downcast, O my soul?…Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him…” (NIV). Self talk is a term used to identify the action of a person describing their situation to themselves in positive or negative terms. This is exactly what the Psalmist is doing.
The writer starts the Psalm describing his great desire for the refreshing sense of God’s presence. He has lost the joy of being with his God and craves a time when he shall once again appear before the Lord. Although this is negative self talk, we assume it is an accurate description of his situation.
It is valuable to have a clear understanding of where we are in life whether it is a good life we lead or a bad one. The Psalmist’s life is a bad one as he misses the company of His God and mourns the loss greatly.
On the other hand he writes several times about the fact he shall be restored to the experience of the Lord’s delightful presence. This is positive “self talk”. For now, being near to God is just a memory. He then tells himself that being away from God will be just a memory.
This reversal of circumstances that shall happen in the future is the light in a dark place. This future prospect of fellowship with the Lord keeps him going as he endures the present darkness.
Several times the Psalmist describes his future expectation as he says to himself, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him…I will remember you [God], By day the Lord directs his love,…Put your hope in God…” (NIV) This is positive “self talk”.
You will recognize that, for the child of God, these expressions of their wonderful future is an important exercise in times of trouble. It is good to express the negatives about the present, but never lose sight of the future ahead and speak about it as much as you do the present sorrow.
We may find comfort in the beautiful words of a hymn that describes our future with the Lord.
There is a land of pure delight, where saints immortal reign;
Infinite day excludes the night, and pleasures banish pain.