Let me ask you this: do you talk to yourself? Before you say yes or no, let me say this is a rhetorical question. I already know you talk to yourself! Everybody does. We may or may not do it with our mouths, but we all have internal monologues - an internal conversation with ourselves.
A lot of people don’t pay much attention to that internal monologue. The thoughts that compose that internal conversation go unchecked. For them, it is just something that happens involuntarily like a breath or a blink of the eye.
I think those of us who pay no attention to that internal conversation are missing out on some important stuff! I think the Bible instructs us to pay close attention to that internal discussion with ourselves. I also think our internal talking has within it great potential to empower us to be better people for God.
One of my favorite passages by King David is a written transcript of his internal monologue. In Psalm 42 David lets us into his internal world and we find a very rich verse that shows us how he used his internal conversation as a tool to escape despair. David is known as a “man after God’s own heart.” He was a consummate worshipper of God and I think the kind of talks with himself that we see in Psalm 42 much illuminate exactly how he was able to worship God with such abandon.
Amidst a lamentation about his troubles and sadness, David stops himself flat:
“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 42:5
Here we find David putting the brakes on his thoughts about the issues that are plaguing him and redirecting himself to hope. This is effective and intentional use of his internal conversation to keep his mind on what mattered most in the situation: keeping his hope in God. By extension of that hope, we find an affirmation! David says “I will yet praise Him.”
When we learn to use our internal monologues to regain focus like David did here, we find strength. It is so easy to be distracted by the things we see and hear around us. If you read Psalm 42, you’ll find David struggling with lots of the same issues we have to deal with everyday - feeling alienated, concerns with what people think about him, feelings of defeat, even feeling ignored by God. But we find in this chapter the thoughts of a man who was continually redirecting his thoughts back to the place where his hope is rooted!
Check out the outline of the chapter. Verses 1-4, David is lamenting. Verse 5 he redirects his thoughts back to his hope. Verses 6-7 he calls himself to remember the Lord’s goodness to him in the past. Verse 8 he reminds himself that God loves him. Verse 9-10 David slips a bit. He reflects on the troubling issues before him. In the culmination of the chapter however, at verse 11 David repeats the refrain of verse 5 - refocusing on hope.
What a great example this chapter is for us! Life is not easy. We are pushed and stretched and challenged day in and day out. But I’m so glad to know that we don’t have to be subject to rambling in our minds. We can take control of our thoughts and use them as a weapon against our circumstances. We can encourage ourselves!
David is a master of this kind of internal conversation and as we read through Psalms we find this pattern throughout his life. When in trouble, he redirected his thoughts. He gives us a rich example of how to start the march toward victory.
The great explorer Douchan Gersi said: “Victory always starts in the head. It's a state of mind.” I believe he’s right, and I’d be willing to bet a dollar or two that King David would agree as well!
As we set out into this week, let’s pay close attention to how we talk to ourselves about our circumstances. Let’s see if we can’t start some winning streaks by redirecting all of our thoughts to the source of all our hope - God our glorious Father!
Here are some questions for this week…
- What’s my natural state of mind? Am I a pessimist, optimist or realist?
- Do I control my thoughts or do my thoughts control me?
- What does my internal monologue sound like when I’m facing adversity?
- Do I find that my internal monologues usually inform how things turn out for me?
- How often do stop negative trends of thought to turn situations over to God in my thoughts?