Tag Archives: doubt

Heaviness of My Soul, and Psalm 42

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, July 27, 2017

psalm 42-11 help of my countenance

Heaviness of My Soul, and Psalm 42

Have you ever been full of doubt? Downhearted, depressed and hopeless? Completely lost, with everything collapsing around you? Yeah … me, too.

That was what I dealt with for years. (Seriously, yes.) For years, I would struggle to pray, struggle with my doubts, and especially struggle with any knowledge that God was remembering me, at all. It was almost a daily struggle, for many, many months. For years, at times.

That was how the psalmist felt, too. (This psalm was written by one of the sons of Korah, so we are not sure exactly who wrote it.)

Our psalmist was of two minds as he wrote this. Sure, he told about his assurance in the Lord, and how he trusted in God. He wrote of how much the Lord would help him, and how he would pray to God regularly. On the other hand—he also poured out his heart, and confessed his doubts, his fears, his heaviness. He would mention how much his enemies oppressed him, and how far away from him he felt God was. (Yes, very far.)

And, yet … and, yet …

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes “Whoever has found God in the cross of Jesus Christ knows how mysteriously God hides himself in this world, and how, when we believe him farthest away, he is just there beside us.” [1]

Some might call this a paradox, others might say it is the mysterious, sometimes unfathomable nature of God. Note the closing verse of Psalm 42: “Put your trust in God; for I will yet give thanks to him, who is the help of my countenance, and my God.”

I have trust in Bonhoeffer’s closing in this mini-commentary: “He will be the help of your countenance; because he knows you and loved you before he made you, He will not let you fall. You are in his hands.” [2] I take heart in this assurance. Pastor Dietrich affirmed this blessed truth. He certainly had a good deal of challenge and hardship in his life. However, he made it through his struggles and trials. Bonhoeffer continued to thank God for being there for him and with him.

Dear Lord, help me do the same. Please, Lord.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 60.

[2] Ibid, 61.

Prayer Lessons from Improv? Yup.

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, May 12, 2014

baby and butterfly

Prayer Lessons from Improv? Yup.

Yes, it’s so easy to get all pessimistic and full of doubt. Show (or even think) lack of faith. I know, I know. You don’t need to tell me. Especially when things are rough and the going gets even harder, doubt and lack of faith loom large. That can happen to almost anyone, especially when bad, sad, or complex things get piled up. All on top of each other. Crushing people with their heavy, depressing, anxiety-ridden load.

I’ve been thinking about doubt and lack of faith. (On my other blog, A Year of Being Kind, I even wrote a post about doubt yesterday. http://wp.me/p4cOf8-8Z ) A shortcut way of description is pessimism, in a single word. I don’t care whether we call it doubt, lack of faith, pessimism, or some fancy, clinical-sounding, psychological term. But—what could I do about these big-downer, depressing thoughts?

I hadn’t even gone so far as to formulate a proper prayer about doubt and lack of faith when I was reminded of my two-year experience doing comedy improv here in Chicago, in the 1990’s. My first teacher, Charna, pounded into our heads the saying, “Never ‘No, but . . .’ Always ‘Yes, and . . !'” If, in improv, I say “No, but . . . ” in a sketch, I’m putting on the breaks. Stop! Hold it! <sound of car brakes screeching> The sketch runs out of gas, FAST! However, if I say “Yes, and . . . ” then the sketch gains momentum! It has the potential to go to further, greater heights. Being positive and moving forward helps everything.

I think you get where I’m going. This “Yes, and!” principle applies to everything! Even though I tend to be world-weary and pessimistic now, after several decades on this imperfect world, I still pray for God to make me a “Yes, and!” kind of person. Won’t you?

Let’s pray. Dear God, God of comedy, tragedy, and every other part of life, thank You for comedy and the ability to laugh. Thank You for Your promise to be with us even when we cry, or are lonely, or are feeling crushed by the weight of so much, too many things. Help us—help me to be a “Yes, and!” kind of person, positive, not pessimistic. Help us to get on board with You and go along wherever the journey takes us. Thank You for being with us, no matter what. In Your powerful, positive, life-giving name we pray, Amen!


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net