When your soul is disturbed and in despair, I’m here to tell you: you don’t have to stay there. It often seems easier, and sometimes we want to, but it’s definitely not better to. Jesus came that we may have life, abundant life; let’s not sit back while the enemy tries to steal, kill, and destroy our souls (John 10:10).
The following is not an exhaustive list or in any specific order, but I want to share some verses and definitions to equip you for when your soul is downcast.
The word for soul used in all the verses is the Hebrew word nephesh, and it means “soul, self, life, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion; that which breathes.” Your soul matters. The state of your soul matters.
Our souls will feel troubled and broken and overwhelmedin this life, but we weren’t created to stay in the dark. Choose to take a step to shed His light on your situation, to point you back to Him. Here are seven tools, action words, straight from Scripture, to help you climb out of your pit.
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.” – Psalm 42:5 (NASB)
When you feel reduced to nothing, too weak to lift your eyes, put your hope in God. The word for hope in the Hebrew is yachal, and it means “to expect, wait for; hope, tarry; by implication, to be patient; stay, trust.” Be patient in the midst of commotion and emotions. Expect good from your Heavenly Father. Stay with Him, tarry in His presence, trusting that He is who He says He is.
The word for praise in this verse is the Hebrew word yadah, and it means “to give thanks, laud, praise; to confess (the name of God); literally, to use (i.e. hold out) the hand, especially to revere or worship (with extended hands).” Lift your hands in worship, and lift your eyes in hope, toward the God who is more than able and more than enough.
“My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.” – Psalm 63:8 (NASB)
At first glance, cling might be seen as a negative word. In a culture of self-reliance and independence, who wants to come across as clingy or needy? But what a transparent, vulnerable place to be with God. The Hebrew word for clings is dabaq, which means “to be lovingly devoted (to God); to cling, stick, stay close, cleave, follow closely; to be joined together; to catch by pursuit.” We need to practice this…. cling to God! Be joined to Him, with some spiritual duct tape or super glue. When you find the One your heart loves, hold on to Him and do not let Him go (Song of Songs 3:4).
We can cling to Him because in His grace and love, His right hand upholds us. Upholds in the Hebrew is tamak, meaning “to grasp, to hold, support, keep; to take hold of each other.” God is the best at holding us close and sustaining us. When our soul is downcast, comfort comes when we cling to Him and feel His arms of love wrap around us.
“Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and shield.” – Psalm 33:20 (NASB)
We don’t like to wait, but there is great value in waiting well on the Lord and His perfect timing. There are valuable lessons in the wait that can’t be learned any other way. The Hebrew word for waits is chakah, and it means “to wait for, await, tarry, wait (in ambush), long for; to wait for Jehovah, full of confidence.” We can wait with confidence for our God because He is our help and shield. Our relief, aid, help comes from Him. It is Him. He is our protection, defense, shield. May we long for God above all else and wait for Him well.
“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.” – Psalms 130:5-6 (NASB)
“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” – Psalm 42:2 (NIV)
In Hebrew, thirsts is tsame’ and it means “to be thirsty; metaphor: to desire eagerly any person or thing.” What if we thirsted for God more than anything else on this dry earth? What if we desired Him eagerly, over the counterfeits and temporary? It’s time we let our soul feel the thirst and seek out some true Living Water.
“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” – Psalms 63:1 (NASB)
“Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” – Psalm 116:7 (NIV)
“Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” – Psalm 116:7 (NASB)
Rest is right up there with waiting… we have too much to do and not enough time. So why prioritize rest? Because it’s crucial for our souls. The Hebrew word for rest is manowach, and it means “resting place, state or condition of rest; repose; quiet, i.e. (concretely) a settled spot, or (figuratively) a home.” We’re called to return to rest, to come back to that quiet time with God, settling into your home in Him.
When we rest, it creates space to stop our striving, to be still (Psalm 46:10), and to remember. To have eyes to see how good and faithful our Father is and recall how He has dealt bountifully with us.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits…” – Psalms 103:1-2 (NASB)
What does it mean to bless His name? In the Hebrew in these verses, the word for bless is barak, and it means “to bless, kneel; as an act of adoration, thank; to invoke God, to praise, to celebrate, to adore, to bless God, which is done with bended knees.” This word is all about our posture; on our knees, to adore Him in our hearts, to celebrate His character, to praise Him for who He is and all He’s done.
When we bless the Lord, we humble ourselves; we bend our knees so we can can lift Him high. We get our eyes off our circumstances and fix them on our Faithful God. We take the focus off of us and what is making our soul downcast, and we adore the One who sees us and knows us. By faith, we celebrate Him who is at work, even if we can’t see the proof of it yet.
“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” – Psalm 146:1-2 (NASB)
The Hebrew word for praise is halal, and it means “to shine, hence to make a show, to rave, celebrate, commend; to flash forth light; to praise, boast, to make a fool of, act like a madman.” So my soul, instead of having a pity party, throw a praise party! Rave about Him, boast about Him, make a show! Flash forth His light, reflecting it back to Him, for everyone else to see. Even if He never did another thing for us, He is worthy to be praised. He sent His beloved Son to die for us, to make a way for us to know Him and be with Him.
God is the ultimate restorer of our souls; He holds us in His hands and repairs our hearts. But He wants all of us. He wants relationship with us. He wants our souls in sync with His. He restores our soul for a purpose – so that we can be refreshed and renewed by Him. So that we can love Him and love others and let our lives splash His love on them.
We can either sit in our pity and let negativity overtake our thoughts, or we can partner with God in the restoration process. Remember: your soul matters. The state of your soul matters. It’s okay to be downcast, but don’t stay there. Hope in God. Cling to Him. Wait for Him. Thirst for Him alone. Rest in His arms. Bless His name. Praise the Lord.
O, my soul. ❤️
This Week’s Song Suggestions:
- “Champion” by Bryan & Katie Torwalt
- “Shepherd” by Amanda Cook
- “Come to the River” by Housefires
- “Hidden” by United Pursuit feat. Will Reagan
- “It Is Well” by Kristene DiMarco
- “Oh My Soul” by Casting Crowns