5Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation 6and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. 8By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. (Psalm 42:5-8)
While Psalm 23 tells us how God restores our souls, we can lose sight of the fact that our souls need His restoration. Sometimes we echo today’s Psalm, aware that our soul is cast down, but unable to figure out how it happened. Other times we’re in absolute turmoil and don’t know how we got there.
Note the range of feelings in the verse between cast down and in turmoil. We are reminded that our souls respond in various ways, sometimes with troubled thoughts that simply nag and other times with feelings that completely knock us off our feet. So whether that’s cast down, in turmoil, or somewhere in between, we end up depleted. Let me lovingly warn you about five things that deplete our souls.
First, people can deplete us. It’s great to have good, fun, and godly people in our lives, but even they can be too much of a good thing. We can have too much relational exposure and not enough private time with God. Even those we most enjoy spending time with can become a drain, if we aren’t having time alone with God. Consider how, despite the constant demands on Him, Jesus took time with the Father every day (see Mark 1:35).
Second, certain people really deplete our souls. I confess I’ve been on both sides: ministering to draining people and being a draining person. People who have acute needs, poor social skills, or a demanding nature can siphon our strength and resources. God can help us wisely manage the number of high-need people we allow into our lives.
Third, busyness drains our souls. Even people who manage to work fewer hours end up filling their lives with multiple and conflicting commitments, with little time remaining for things that replenish. With all that’s been said about the value of saying no, we’re not very good at it. Too many good things can be as draining as too many good people (and they often come in a package). Being too busy, as we run from one commitment to another, depletes our souls.
Fourth, problems can leave our souls decimated. Health concerns, financial shortfalls, conflicts with others—our problem portfolios may vary, but the pile drains away our strength. As you look over the landscape of your concerns, and of those you love, do you feel a drag on your soul?
Fifth, coveting depletes our souls. I need a better job, a marriage partner—and children! Once we start a list, it keeps expanding. I want, I want, I want—insatiable desires for promotions, raises, and new things drains life. If your strongest desire isn’t for God and His glory, you are setting yourself up for a downcast soul in turmoil.
God’s answer? Trust in Me. “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” David knew what to do! When you are downcast or in turmoil, return to God, worship Him, and allow Him to restore your soul. Get your eyes off the situation and back on “[your] salvation and [your] God.” Spend time with Him today and renew your mind in His Word—it will encourage your heart, as He restores your soul.
Lord, forgive me for being easily distracted by the lure of passing things that cannot feed and nourish my soul as You alone can. Give me ears to hear Your Spirit whisper that I’m leaning too heavily on what will not hold up. And when I find myself depleted, when I come once again to the end of my rope, meet me there, Heavenly Father, as always with Your grace and mercy to restore my soul. In Jesus’ name, amen.