Mastering Our Moods

PART 1: David’s Method

Psalm 42

Feeling Moody Lately?

Do you ever have one of those days where you’re just in a mood? A mood is a hard thing to pin down. Sometimes you know why you’re in a mood, sometimes you don’t. You just have it. What is a mood? A mood is not purely emotional, although it involves emotion. A mood is also mental—it has to do with your thought patterns. Maybe you’re looking backward, inward or forward. Our minds often think irrationally. A mood is emotional and mental, but also it is physical. We may feel down simply because we didn’t get a good night’s sleep or we’re hungry. Have you ever felt a bit edgy when your stomach was empty, or you were exhausted after a long, hard day? All three components—mental, emotional, and physical—mix together to create what we calla mood or an attitude.

Does God’s Word have anything to say about moods? Yes, it certainly does. In the Bible, the word that indicates a mood or an attitude is the word, “spirit.” Of course, spirit can often refer to spiritual beings, such as the Spirit of God, angelic beings, or an individual’s invisible spirit, but often the context makes clear that the word is referencing the idea of an attitude or mood. This kind of “spirit,” while not necessarily spiritual in nature, is certainly an opportunity for spiritual darkness and deception to take hold of an individual. The Bible is full of references to both good and bad attitudes: a haughty spirit, cheerful spirit, angry spirit, joyful spirit, broken spirit—just to name a few. Thankfully, God gives us instruction about how to master our moods.  You do not have to be a slave to your mood!

David certainly knew the darkness and power of negative moods. The psalms record his experiences, but also his method of gaining divine power over his moods. A good example of this is Psalm 42. I would encourage you to stop and turn to this passage right now and read it. You’ll find that David never actually uses the word “spirit,” and yet the whole psalm is David’s prayer—David’s method—of dealing with inner darkness and despair.

Why do I feel this way?

We see David grappling with his feelings. He is up and down in this psalm. He starts out expressing a longing for God. He feels parched. He thirsts for God. David’s mind went back to the days when he could freely go to the place of worship with his friends. Most likely this was written while David was in exile, running from King Saul (1 Samuel 18-31). He missed the house of God.

David was lonely. Loneliness is a mood: a sense of being forgotten, a sense of abandonment. In verse 5, he asks himself this question: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul.” We often ask ourselves that, too. “Why am I feeling this way? Where did this mood come from? Why can’t I shake it? Will these storm clouds ever part? Is there something wrong with me?”

The word, “disquieted” means the sound of war—loud, chaotic noise that upsets and disturbs our inner calm. Our minds and souls are often filled with the clamor of crazy thoughts, feelings, and imaginations—noise that only we can hear.  What can be done? How can we silence this noise and restore peace and quiet in our hearts?

Hope in God.

David gives the answer: “Hope thou in God. For I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” Hope, in the Bible, doesn’t mean to cross your fingers and wish for the best. Hope means a joyful, confident expectation. It’s choosing to believe that something good is coming because Someone good is in control. It’s turning your gaze to an object outside of you and bigger than you, and declaring to yourself and anyone present that God is in control, God is good, and God will bring you through! Everything changes, but God never will. You can choose to anchor your mind on the unchanging rock of God’s Word.

This is the first step in mastering your moods. Hope in God. When you’re in a dark place emotionally, mentally or physically, it feels hopeless. But when you choose to turn to God, you have hope. The clouds will begin to part as you declare your faith in Him. This leads to the second step:

Praise God on Purpose.

David continues: “I shall yet praise Him.” Do you ever do things that you don’t feel like doing? Maybe you get up early because you don’t want to be late to work, or you do the laundry because somebody has to do it. You don’t feel like it, yet you do it anyway. David understood that he would probably not feel like praising God. He had determined that He would do it anyway. It was the only way out of a dark place. You can’t wait for the feeling. Sometimes we feel like praising theLord, but in the dark times we must praise Him on purpose.

Praise turns the Light on!

Praise turns the light on. Have you ever walked into a dark room or dark basement and felt around for the string hanging from a light bulb? You can’t even see your hand but you know the string is there. You move forward cautiously waving your outstretched arms hoping to brush against the dangling cord. There! You found it! With a simple pull the light bulb clicks on and the darkness is gone. Praise is the act of faith that makes God’s truth and God’s presence real in our hearts. He is truth and light. Praise allows His light to shine in our hearts. Praise is a focus on our God.

This leads us to the third step in mastering our moods:

Take Comfort in God’s Presence.

David continues: “For I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” God’s countenance is simply His face. It’s the idea of God’s nearness, and it implies God’s attitude of favor toward His children. We don’t get to see God’s face literally, but when we hope in God and praise God His face comes into focus. We remember what His Word declares, and the Holy Spirit makes His presence real to us. This is not necessarily an “experience.” It’s not something rooted in our feelings. It’s also more than a head-knowledge. The help of God’s countenance is received by faith. God ministers His comforting presence in a real way that is beyond human understanding—the “peace which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Many Christians feel as though God is distant and disapproving. They ask for His presence, when all along they could have rested in His presence. God is not far away! He indwells His children and has promised never to depart.

Many Christians feel as though God is distant and disapproving. They ask for His presence, when all along they could have rested in His presence.

“Yes,” you say, “God may be with me but I don’t think He likes me very much.” This idea of an austere, disapproving God does much to darken the heart and send us into the most destructive paths. Many believers understand theologically that God loves them, but practically they don’t feel it.

Perhaps they try to win His favor through fervent service, or confession of sin, or by cultivating a heart of surrender, but always God’s presence is something to be desired—something outside of them—something to be sought after—something to be earned. I find it interesting that David did not ask for God’s presence. Instead, He declared it as a comforting reality. He knew God was with him, that God’s face was toward him, and he took comfort in God’s favor.

We haven’t mentioned the word yet, but we’ve been talking about it. The word is GRACE. Grace is God’s unmerited (undeserved, unearned) favor toward us. It was this favor that sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to die for our sins and be raised again for our salvation. Have you trusted in Jesus and accepted Him as your Savior? If not, do so now. It’s the only way to make peace with God and receive the promise of eternal life!

It is God’s continued favor that sent His Holy Spirit to indwell each one who trusts in His Son. If you’ve asked Christ to save you and been born again by faith in Christ, you’ve been washed of your sin by His blood. God now looks upon you with the same favor that He has toward His Son, Jesus. His favorable presence is not only with you, but it is in you. You need not ask or beg or plead. You don’t have to strike a deal with God or woo Him to your side. He simply wants us to hope in Him, praise Him, and rest in Him. He isn’t going anywhere, and He hasn’t changed His mind about you. As Christians, nothing we’ve done or that has been done to us “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). Hope in God, and praise Him for the help of His countenance and you’ll see your mood begin to change.

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