What we think about matters.
This has been on my mind, alot.
What do you think about? What do you fill your mind with? Do you ever stop and think about it?
The truth is, you and I are filling our minds with all kinds of thoughts all the time. Good thoughts and bad thoughts. Thoughts filled with truth and thoughts filled with untruth. Thoughts that comfort us and thoughts that disturb us. Thoughts that fuel joy in our hearts and thoughts that awaken anger and bitterness. Thoughts that draw us more closely to the Lord and thoughts that drive us away from Him.
What we think about matters. It really matters.
Especially when we are in the pit of pain, fear, and despair.
Consider these words from King David in Psalm 3:3 as he found himself in a place of deep anguish and hardship,
“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy mountain.”
Do you see what David is doing here? We may not realize it at first, but he is giving us an example of what each of us must do if we are not simply to “survive” our pain and suffering but grow and mature through it.
David models for us here the importance of talking to yourself instead of listening to yourself. That’s right. Talking to yourself instead of listening to yourself.
For most of us, our biggest problem is that we listen to ourselves far more than we talk to ourselves. Here’s what I mean.
Years ago, when I was going through a difficult season in my life, I came across this concept of talking instead of listening to yourself in a book that ministered to my soul in a very deep way. The book is called, “Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure,” by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones’ words have once again ministered to me deeply through the current valley our family is walking through. He writes this:
“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you…The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself…You must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world. That is the essence of the treatment in a nutshell.”
This is what we must do. This is exactly what David does here in Psalm 3:3. He honestly acknowledges his emotions, but then intentionally reminds himself of what he knows to be true. In the pit, David reminds himself about God. About God’s faithfulness. About who God is and what He has done.
David is talking to himself instead of listening to himself.
He is intentionally filling his mind with the right things. With true things.
Specifically, David reminds himself of four truths about God and His character…
These are four truths each of us must remind ourselves of. Four truths we must speak to ourselves in the midst of our own suffering, when we find ourselves in the pit of pain:
#1. God protects us.
David says in Verse 3, “But you, O LORD, are a shield about me.”
A shield is a defensive weapon. If you have a shield, you’re able to deflect the attacks of the enemy. Soldiers would hold a small round shield, big enough to provide protection but small enough to allow movement.
But David goes even further. He says that the LORD is a shield about him, not just in front of him, but all around him. David says that God is his complete protection. When we’re under attack, we can remind ourselves that God is our protection. He is our shield.
#2. God is enough for us.
David goes on,“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory.
David says that God is his “glory”. What does it mean that God is his glory?
David was king. Kings had a glory that nobody else had. They had public dignity, recognition, honor. But now David was on the run and had temporarily lost almost everything, including his “glory” as king. But here David says he never lost his true glory. Why? Because for David, God was his glory. Not himself. Not his position. Not his own kingship.
God was his glory.
We all get meaning from something in life. You can lose your career. You can lose popularity and acclaim. You can lose your health. Sometimes in an instant. If you get glory from anything other than God, you can and will lose your glory. David says he has all the glory that he needs in God himself. What about you and me?
#3. God restores us.
Next in verse 3 David says that God is the “lifter of his head”… “But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
You don’t need this one explained. You know what it means to hang your head. In war, those who were conquered would lay on the ground while the conquerors put a foot on their necks.
David says that God has lifted his head again. God has a way of restoring us even in the middle of impossible situations. Even in the middle of our pain. Even when we find ourselves in the pit.
#4. God is accessible to us.
Finally, in verse 3 we see that God answers from his holy hill.
“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill.
At this point in his life, David had enemies coming after him. He was anxious. He was scared. He was unsure of what lay ahead for him. As a result, he had fled his home, Jerusalem. He’d left the site of the tabernacle where he would regularly go to worship God. He couldn’t go there to pray and to ask God for help. But David says here that his prayers get to God’s holy hill just fine even though he can’t be there.
God hears our prayers even when we’re nowhere near church. God is accessible to us no matter where we are. This is because the Lord is omnipresent. This simply means He is everywhere. He is everywhere at all times.
He is present with you on the mountain tops and the valleys.
When you are laughing and when you are weeping.
When you are feeling courageous and when you are afraid.
The Lord God is with you even now. Right where you are. Whatever you are facing in life at this moment. He really is.
Our great God is accessible to us. More than that He desires for us to cry out to Him as our Lord, our King, our Savior.
Turn to Him, friend. Run to Him. Cry out to Him. I will be joining you.
Here is my prayer for you and me today…
May the Lord increasingly make us men and women who talk to ourselves more than we listen to ourselves. More specifically, may He transform us into individuals who speak the truth to ourselves and stop listening to the lies that inundate us day after day. That through His Holy Spirit and the truth of His Word, He might renew our minds moment by moment, filling us with the hope, peace, and joy we so desperately need.