Podcast Episode 1 - Introduction
Listen to Episode 1 here or scroll down to read the transcript
Welcome to Jen’s New Song
My name is Jennifer Holmes. I am a christian, a wife, a mom to three beautiful children, music teacher, and lover of words, both written and spoken.
I also happen to have the label of mental illness, particularly Bipolar II.
In the summer of 2018, just before I was diagnosed, God started showing me something profound in the Psalms. Something that would change my life. He was preparing me for the diagnosis ahead.
When I was diagnosed with Bipolar II, I suddenly felt as though I couldn’t trust my brain. As though it was now always betraying me. Everything I thought I knew was brought into question. Every thought analyzed. Every emotion questioned. And with good reason.
You see, I can’t always trust my emotions. None of us can. I just didn’t realize this until I had spent hours sitting in a counsellor’s office and had a label. I might have said in some off-handed way that I believed in the Bible over my emotions, but I can’t say that I always lived that way.
So here I was. Broken hearted, afraid, not knowing what to think or feel. Then the Holy Spirit started gently reminding me of what God had shown me earlier in the months before.
When I would read through the Psalms, I would often notice how they began with despair. Lets use Psalm 42 for an example. At the beginning of the Psalm, David says,
My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.
Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.
Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?
The Psalmist is crying out with deep despair. All throughout the psalms we see this type of beginning. A person who is not afraid to call out to God. A person who is not afraid to be honest with God. A person who is just being honest and laying it all on the table.
But then Psalm 42 ends with this verse.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
David tells us that God is the health of his countenance, his hope. And for that reason he should not be cast down and he should instead praise God.
I used to think that was the end of the story. That at the beginning of all these psalms, the writer is telling us a dark story. A time of despair, of trial, of storm. But by the end, when he’s telling us how amazing God is, how He is worthy of our praise, how He is the rescuer, the defender, the fortress, it’s with this ending that the psalmist is telling us the end of the story. The happy ending that he was longing for. How God fixed everything and now the psalmist could be happy.
But because I love writing and English and grammar, even though I often chose to ignore it, I started noticing a structure to many of these psalms. The beginning was in present tense and the ending was in future tense.
All those wonderful things about God the psalmist was telling us? Those hadn’t happened yet. David was still in the cave. Still on the run. Still living in fear for his life. Psalmists were still surrounded by enemies, still in exile.
These psalmist had not yet seen deliverance. They still felt as though they were watering their couch with tears. They still felt despair. They still felt lonely and scared and abandoned.
These are all the things they felt. And the amazing thing about our God? He put all that in the Bible. All of these psalmists were not afraid to show us the hard parts of their lives. Their rough days, their negative emotions, their anger with God, their fear. They told God all about it and He recorded it all for us to read. So we would know we were not alone.
But they didn’t stay there. No, they laid it all out with God. Told Him exactly how they felt. And then they did something life changing. Instead of staying in what they felt, they reminded themselves of what they knew.
Those verses in the future tense? When Psalm 42 ends like this? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
The psalmist was not saying he felt full of hope. Or full of praise. Or that God had wrapped up the entire situation with a neat bow.
He was reminding himself of what he knew. That God was his hope, no matter how he felt. That God was worthy of praise, no matter how he felt. That God could bring him out of despair, no matter how he felt right now.
He sat and listed all the things he knew to be true about God.
This was life changing for me, because it taught me how to deal with a brain, with emotions, with thoughts that lied to me. That told me I would never be okay, that God had abandoned me, that I would have to live with despair the rest of my life.
It taught me to come to God. To lay it all out on the table in full honesty, just like the psalmists. To not be afraid of how I felt, or be afraid to tell God how I felt.
But not to stay there.
Instead, To start talking to myself in the future tense. To remind myself of what I knew. What I knew to be true about my God. Even in the middle of the story. Even when the present held despair, when it held tears, when I couldn’t see a way out. Even then, I could tell myself what I knew.
That my God is good. That He is my rescuer, my deliverer, my strong tower, my Rock, the one who will raise me out of the pit. That even if all those things happen in the future, I still know them to be true. No matter what I feel.
I would love for you to join me for a series here as we discuss something that we feel, but then remind ourselves of what we know. We will not be afraid to say what we feel, to talk about the hard things, the real things, the honest things. But we will refuse to stop there. We will also tell ourselves the things we know. The things God tells us to be true from His word.
This study of the psalms has changed my life. God’s Word is powerful like that. It has the power to change yours too.