None of us plan to write confusion or failure or chapters of loss, pain, conflict, or suffering into our stories. No one plans to struggle to love her husband, to feel helpless in motherhood, to feel lonely in ministry, to wrestle with identity. But there I was in my late twenties, chaffing from all this and more. In that time of my life, I was in a pattern of bowing to my emotions and stumbling about in my doubt—like James says—“like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (Jas. 1:6, NIV).
My husband Troy and I were both believers, but reality pressed in with the tension of our faith against the pressures of life. And he said to me one day, in the midst of me feeling sorry for myself and in a slump:
“Honey, you really need to preach truth to yourself. You believe the gospel and the hope we have in Christ. Tell yourself what to do like the psalmist does.”
The psalm he referred to is Psalm 42.
Read Psalm 42:5-11.
If the psalmist’s remedy for a downcast soul was to tell his soul to put his hope in God, then we must know why putting our hope in Jesus changes our hearts and minds. Somehow as believers, we trust Jesus to save us from our sins, but we so easily forget He saves us to a new way of thinking, living, and being.
We may be familiar with Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:2—“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (NIV)—but so often we try to figure out what God wants to do with our lives by comparing the patterns to success, productivity, or happiness we see in the world.
We are transformed by the renewing of our minds. We renew our minds by developing new patterns. Instead of bowing to the pattern of my feelings or my old thoughts, I worked to practice a pattern of preaching truth from God’s Word to my own heart, like the psalmist did.
Only by being filled with truth can we be transformed by the renewing of our minds.