What do you do when you feel down and discouraged? Do you listen to yourself or do you preach to yourself?
Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes in his book Spiritual Depression, "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 start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. . . . Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, “Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.” Here is the verse from the psalm Martyn Lloyd-Jones refers to: "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 42:11) I have found this advice to preach to myself mightily helpful for those hours when I am feeling most despondent. But I have also noticed that unless I read the bible regularly, I don't have any content to preach on. So now I consider my bible study time each day as a time of storing up content for a rainy day, so that when I am downcast the Holy Spirit can reach into all that I have studied to select what I need to hear for encouragement, teaching or rebuke. There have also been times when I have been too overwhelmed or burnt out to engage in a more systematic bible study. In these times I have found it helpful to look back over my favourite verses I have underlined in my bible, or even to write out a particularly poignant verse and stick it near my bedside where I will see it often. In these times the very words of God preach themselves to me and minister to me until my thinking is renewed.
Inspired by Preach To Yourself by John Piper from Solid Joys devotional