Sometimes we are too analytical when viewing other people. I am. In a conversation with a person, I sometimes wonder what they are really thinking, or what their true feelings are about the topic being discussed. A few weeks ago I taught for one week at a church camp. When we arrived at this beautiful camp, one of the first people to greet my wife and me was a woman with a pleasant personality and a smile that got my attention. I wondered what was behind her smile. By the week’s end, I knew. She was doing an excellent job at covering up a lot of hurts. Many of these feelings came out as she responded to my teaching, and our group became a family.
We learn through the years to cover our feelings with a smile. One of our friends decided that she is too old to drive her automobile and is going to sell it. Her lifestyle will change. She can no longer come and go as freely as she once did. Yet, she covered her feelings very well with a smile.
I am sure this was true in the life of the person who wrote our Psalm, which serves as the text for this sermon. Today he gives us a look at what is going on in his soul. Let’s examine some of his statements, which are emotional.
He writes, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” (vs. 1) What is he saying? “Life has taught me that God alone can satisfy my greatest needs.” Without God’s presence, he was an orphan. There was a vacuum in his life, an appetite that only God can satisfy.
You can be sure that the Psalmist did not run around telling his friends that he had these feelings. The author could present himself as a spiritually strong person. He could have given the impression that he was adequate for all things, but such was not so. There might have been a smile on his face, but what was behind the smile?
Millions of people walk in their society giving the impression that they have no needs. Money has provided them with all of the luxuries and necessities that a human could hope to have, and yet an intimate conversation with them tells you how burdened they are. Material possessions cannot satisfy all of their needs. Their souls pant for a personal relationship with the living God, and yet they do not know this to be true. They are looking for something, but they do not know what it is.
It is the task of the Christian to point this person to Christ, who alone brings peace for what they long. Real peace comes from within. I am convinced that many of these people wait for their Christian friends to talk about the Savior.
Let’s move on and talk about another feeling. The Psalmist was depressed. He was suffering from nostalgia, and he thought back on the “good old days.” “These things I remember as I pour out my soul; how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.” (vs. 4) He had led the procession in the temple on a festive day. All eyes could have been on him, but now these days were over. He could sit and watch as others led the multitudes into the place of worship.
If you are an older person, can’t you identify with these feelings? Life is not over because some of our earthly duties have been passed on to others. Our working days were but one chapter in our lives. Now God has something else for us to do. Maybe it is to sit back in the bleachers and cheer the next generation on as they minister to their peers with the same Gospel we used in ministering to our friends and relatives. Just to sit back and see how God is working in the lives of people becomes very interesting. It is surprising that life can go on without us, isn’t it?
As the Psalmist continues revealing his feelings, he tells us that depression leads to some funny thoughts and questions. In verse 9 he writes, “I say to God, my Rock, ÔWhy have you forgotten me?'” First he calls God his Rock, and then he accuses God of forgetting him. It doesn’t make sense, and some of our questions don’t make sense either, do they? When God has blessed us with health, family, the necessities of life, and the promises of His presence with us while we walk on this earth as well as a heavenly home, why do we complain? Why do we use a superficial smile to cover up the unhappiness that dwells in our souls? Sometimes these feelings of depression and unhappiness break through the smile and our friends who are not Christians ask, “Where is your God? Doesn’t your religion help you in times like these?”
he Psalmist knows the answer for his emotions. “Put your hope in God.” These are the words repeated in the Psalm. What does it mean? Let’s spell it out. To put your hope in God means:
¥ That Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord, and you live in a personal relationship with Him.
¥ That you read the Scriptures daily and let God give you a word that will sustain you through the day.
¥ That you will make your requests known to him in prayer many times during the day.
¥ That you will join with His people, the Church, and worship Him on a regular basis.
Let Christ dwell in you and there will be a peace in your soul and a smile on your face that no sorrow can take away. Then the smile will be genuine and all people will inevitably know that God has put it there.