“My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!” Psalms 119:28
As it turns out, sorrow—or a melting soul—responds quite well to the truth of God’s Word. At times, I found myself being buried by overwhelming sadness. My soul was melting, and I was experiencing a sorrow that could not be compared to any sorrow I’d ever experienced.
I need to express gratitude for decades of sermons, Bible studies, mentors, friends, and colleagues who have invested in me over the years. I love the hymn How Firm a Foundation. Foundations are paramount. There is, as the song reminds us, a firm foundation built for our souls on His excellent Word. I am grateful for the firm foundation provided by God in His Word and through his Body. I’m not a stranger to the gospel. I know it, and I believe it.
But, when a soul melts from deep, unimaginable sorrow, what then? Is the gospel story enough?
I love the following lyrics in a Rend Collective song. They have been instructive and helpful for me as I mourn with hope:
“When I stand accused by my regrets, and the devil roars his empty threats, I will preach the gospel to myself…” Rend Collective, “Nailed to the Cross”
If I need to preach the gospel to myself when I have regrets or when I’m attacked by our enemy, I most assuredly need to preach the gospel to myself when my soul is melting in sorrow.
“No one is more influential in your life than you are because no one talks to you more than you do.” Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies
“Instead of listening to the stories we tell ourselves, we need to start purposely talking to ourselves. Preaching to our hearts.” Erik Reed, Uncommon Trust
While my immediate story—or my “micro-story,” as I have been calling it—is horrible, sorrowful, and seemingly hopeless, I need to remember the truths of the Word. I need to coach myself to stand firmly on the firm foundation of the gospel. I need to preach the gospel to myself. The meta-narrative—or grand narrative of Scripture—provides a firm foundation for tough micro-stories. Call it an anchor. A foundation.
For example, Romans 8:28 provides the gift of context during unimaginable loss:
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
This is one of those passages that doesn’t seem logical to the natural ear. It takes a faith perspective—a gospel context—to grasp it in hope. The loss is not good. However, our good God takes even the worst loss and will work it together for good. I almost—but not really—feel a little sorry for our enemy. No matter what he throws at God’s people, God brings good out of it. That must be very frustrating for an evil enemy; however, it’s faith-bolstering for us. He takes the bad and strengthens us and conforms us to the image of his Son.
“I have found that, sometimes, this requires getting bossy with my soul.” Katherine and Jay Wolf, Suffer Strong
Preach the gospel to yourself no matter how many times you’ve heard it before.
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:29