It’s not usual for a song to come to my mind completely out of the blue. It happens all the time. This morning, however, the song that invaded my thoughts was quite an unusual one. I was sweeping the floor, and to my recollection, I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular. As usual, my thoughts were swirling around my list of things to do today, what Christmas presents I still need to buy, what I was planning to fix for dinner and so on.
Before I realized it, I was humming the tune to “Old MacDonald.” Only the words working their way to my lips were not the words to “Old MacDonald.” Instead, it was a lovely rendition I once heard by Beth Moore as she put the psalmist’s cries in Psalm 42 to the tune of “Old MacDonald.” “Why so downcast, o my soul? Put your trust in God. Why so downcast, o my soul? Put your trust in God. With a why, why here and a why, why there; Here a why, there a why, everywhere a why, why. Why so downcast, o my soul? Put your trust in God.”
I’ve only seen the video once, and that was several months ago. So, why in the world that was the song on my heart this morning? I have no idea! However, when I sat down to do my morning devotions, I could only shake my head and smile. I use the YouVersion App on my tablet for my devotions, and one of its features is that it gives you a “verse of the day.” Would you like to take a guess at what today’s verse was? Yep, Psalm 42:11 which reads:
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”
I kid you not! I am not making this up. There it was in black and white. I laughed, lifted my face toward Heaven and said, “That’s a good one, Lord.” And honestly, that was exactly what I needed to hear today. For the past several weeks, for reasons beyond my understanding, my husband and I have both been out of sorts. While I want to blame it on fatigue, stressful schedules and the like, I still find myself wondering, “Why are we like this? What’s up with this black cloud that doesn’t seem to want to lift? Why are you so downcast, o my soul?”
As I thought on these questions this morning, I realized that the lonely and poor are not the only ones who can grow discouraged during the holidays. Perhaps it’s the stress the season tends to bring. Or maybe it’s the financial burden of buying gifts, sending Christmas cards, making dinner for the entire family and donating to charities. Perhaps it’s the fact that the holidays signal the end of another year–another year that didn’t turn out the way that we had planned. And sometimes I wonder (especially when going through a “why so downcast” spell) if we’re not discouraged because we know the holidays are supposed to be a time of peace and happiness yet, for whatever reason, we feel neither peaceful nor happy.
During the holiday seasons, especially, it is important to reach out to those who have little and those who are alone. But let’s be careful not to assume that these are the only ones who are hurting or discouraged during the holidays. And let’s beware that we don’t become too busy in the hustle and bustle of the season that we don’t notice those who need a helping hand or a word of encouragement. Let’s make a point to look for that person who seems to be saying, “Why art thou downcast, o my soul?” and offer them as much love and cheer as we can possibly give. Who knows? That act alone might be the very thing they need to snap out of it and renew their hope in God.
What can you do to spread holiday cheer this Christmas?