By Terry Powell,
Have you ever “preached to yourself?” I’m referring to the act of fighting negative and unbiblical thought patterns with the Word of God. It’s also called “biblical self-talk,” reminding yourself of truth that counteracts Satan’s lies. In Future Grace, John Piper illustrates how the Psalmist battled despondency by preaching to himself:
In Psalm 73:26 the psalmist says, “My flesh and my heart may fail.” Literally the verb is simply “My flesh and my heart fail!” I am despondent! I am discouraged! But then immediately he fires a broadside against his despondency: “But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” The psalmist does not yield. He battles unbelief with counterattack.
The poem that follows is a type of sermon delivered to myself. The stanzas are painfully realistic about the hopelessness that accompanies my depression. Yet the poem ends on a more positive note, citing another verse from the Psalms in which the author talks back to despair and exalts God as the object of hope. What makes preaching to myself effective is reminding myself of God: Who He is, what He has done and what He had pledged Himself to do.
Fleeting, it’s like a bird in flight,
Or like a shooting star at night,
Or lightning that spans the sky—
Gone in the blink of an eye.
Elusive, like the fog that lifts
When morning sun sends its gifts;
Or the zigzagging butterfly
That you can’t catch. No use to try.
That’s my relationship to hope:
It’s like a wet bar of soap
That keeps giving me the slip.
Can’t keep it within my grip.
Hope that a blinding beam of light
Will penetrate my soul’s dark night.
Hope that it won’t seem so strange
That habits of the heart can change.
Can God plant hope within a heart
For peace of mind and a fresh start?
Though right now I am without it,
God shouts “Yes!” Should I doubt it?
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance, and my God.”
When inward or outward trials come, what are some Bible truths or text that you “preach to yourself”?
Terry teaches in the areas of Church Ministry and Ministry Leadership at Columbia International University in South Carolina. He has served as a Christian Education staff member for three churches, and he’s a licensed preacher in the Presbyterian Church of America. His current books in print are Serve Strong: Biblical Encouragement to Sustain God’s Servants, and Now That’s Good A Question! How To Lead Quality Bible Discussions. Terry has been married for 46 years, and has two sons, a daughter-in-law, one grandson, and a dachshund. His constant prayer is, “Lord, make me half the man my dog thinks I am!”
Check out his blog at https://penetratingthedarkness.com/. His ministry is focused on Christians experiencing clinical depression and other mental issues.