Sing Yourself the Truth
A few years ago I took up distance-running, not because I’m athletic, but because my britches were getting tight. Since then I’ve (slowly) run a few half-marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. You gotta love a sport where the goal is finishing, not winning!
On longer runs, you can hit a wall, so to speak. One endurance strategy is to choose an object within sight and say to yourself, “I’m only going to go to that point, then stop.” When you reach that point, lather, rinse, and repeat. This works for reasons I can’t explain. The mind tricks the body, and the body keeps going.
Endurance in hard times can look like this. Our perseverance requires self-talk, except that it’s not lying to ourselves, but truthing. In a sermon on Psalm 42:11 (Why so downcast oh my soul? Put your hope in God!), Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones put it this way: “[The Psalmist’s] soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, ‘Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.’”
In other words, we do a lot of listening to discouraging thoughts and the Enemy’s lies, so the best way to disarm them is by telling ourselves what is true.
Whenever troubling thoughts come my way, they tend to strike in deep night, when I lie awake and my mind moves towards worries and doubts and regrets. Soon, the Enemy begins to have his way with me, gnawing at my soul.
How do I strike back? I sing to myself (not out loud, of course!). It’s the best way to tell myself the truth.
Lately, my choice weapons are “Fairest Lord Jesus” and “He Will Hold Me Fast.” Sometimes it only takes a couple of verses, but often, several replays are required. As I persevere in singing, though, I soon return to sleep.
Fairest Lord Jesus!
Ruler of all nature!
O Thou of God and man the Son!
Thee will I cherish,
Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown!
When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold through life's fearful path;
For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.
He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast;
For my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast.
Now this is never an emotional experience, per se. I don’t feel all gushy. In fact, I don’t feel much at all.
That’s because it’s not about feeling, but fighting—by singing truth, I combat the Enemy’s lies with truths of my Savior and Refuge.
Fellow Christian, when trouble comes your way; when you’re feeling sad or discouraged or despairing, sing to yourself! It won’t change your circumstances, but it will renew your mind with a Christ-shaped perspective.
Not sure where to begin? Here’s a helpful list of hymns to sing to yourself from Matt Merker. Shane and Shane have made the Worship Initiative free for 30 days if you're looking for great worship resources to use at home!
Lance Ward is the Pastor of Congregational Care at Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City and a regular writer at So We Speak.