September 02, 2013

Truth in Advertising

Psalm 42

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
—Psalm 42:5


I have to tell you the hard truth: I am not, by nature, a very happy person. By genetics, chemical malfunction, and a history of some bad theology, I really struggle with depression. I have sometimes met with counselors, and I have sometimes used the medications they prescribed.

I fully believe in Jesus, but I can relate too well to today’s verses. Though God has richly blessed me, on many days my soul is like a dead battery on a winter morning. I say to myself, “Hey—wake up! What’s your problem? Put your hope in God!” Sometimes that helps, and sometimes it doesn’t. So when I write to you this month about “happier-ness,” I am not talking in the abstract.

Some Christians are just naturally bubbly for Jesus. The rest of us, I’m afraid, have to fight for happiness by faith. I find that I need to choose it, discipline myself for it, and make hard choices in order to apprehend it.

Psalm 42 is the story of a believer battling back-and-forth for faith and for happiness of soul. If you struggle for happiness, that does not mean you are a bad Christian or a failure. You are just a normal human being, like the psalmist, coming forward by faith in a malfunctioning world. Keep working at it, friend. We’ll fight by faith together.

Father, comfort and bless us in our struggles. I am weak, but you are mighty. Be gracious to us, and awaken our souls to your goodness. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

About the author — Keith Mannes

Keith Mannes serves as pastor at Highland Christian Reformed Church in McBain, Michigan. Keith and his wife, Alicia, recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary,
and they are thankful for their three children—Eben, Charis, and Breanna.

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