Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. Psalm 42:5
My husband had been in the hospital for days recovering from heart surgery. The longer we had dealt with his illness, surgery, and recovery, the heavier I’d felt. Most waking hours I’d been with him, and I stayed each night until bedtime. Rounding the corner in the now very familiar hospital corridor, Psalm 42:5 began to ring in my mind: Why are you cast down? Why are you disquieted? Hope in God…
Over and over I seem to need this reminder: Our hope is in God, not people, not resources. Just God. On the other hand, there’s nothing sub-Christian about being down, but it’s terribly debilitating to stay down. Phillips’ version of II Corinthians 4:8-9 says, “We are handicapped on all sides, but we are never frustrated; we are puzzled, but never in despair. We are persecuted, but we never have to stand it alone: we may be knocked down, but we are never knocked out!”
What can we do when we’re knocked down? It’s for sure we won’t get up if we wallow in self-pity. In fact, I can’t think of anything good that comes of navel gazing. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that we all experience hardships, but we are to keep our eyes on Jesus so that we don’t get weary and lose heart. Furthermore, we are to dust ourselves off, strengthen our weak knees, and get up so that those following us aren’t misled but healed.
There can be actual benefits derived by being cast down: We are humbled to face our own vulnerability and offenses; we recognize our need for the Savior; we are disillusioned by our impotence while acknowledging his strength; and we cry out for God. While we’re down, if we recognize the folly of undue attention to ourselves and, instead, look to Jesus, the experience can be another step toward transformation. As we focus on his glory, we are changed into his image (II Corinthians 3:18) rather than the clay-footed one we now inhabit.
So, it’s heads up and eyes on Jesus, no matter what. The Author and Finisher of our faith will always be there.
Father, even when I’m down, don’t lift up me until I’ve learned what you’re trying to teach me. Thank you that being knocked down doesn’t mean that we’re knocked out. We’re just temporarily disengaged. Help us to keep our focus on you, and make us more like Jesus, whatever it takes. AMEN.