Since I was a child, I’ve felt that I’ve been in control of a lot of things about myself. I guess you can say I was reared early on to operate in my own agency. However, that seems to go out of the window when it comes to my facial expressions. My brother once told my mother that I would be able to control it when I was older. I have to assume that I’m not yet older. Whatever is in my head, comes through on my face. If it’s negative, I used to believe it was better than actually saying what I was thinking, but now I’m not so sure. At any rate, if I’m exuberant, I can’t contain my joy through my smile, and just as if I’m internally struggling, the heaviness of my spirit is visible. I’ve heard it said that there is guidance for every issue under the sun in the Word of God. So then when I read Psalm 42, and considered in particular, two verses, five and 11, I was blown away. Both involve the same word. Countenance means one’s facial expression, but also it goes further to encompass support. Even though these verses both contain the same word, there is difference of usage in the scriptures. I became curious as to how the author transitioned from “for to who.”
Psalm 42:5 reads, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” The writer is discouraged, upset, troubled, you know just like us sometimes. Yet I am encouraged because whatever is going on, the writer commits to praise even amidst their current situation. We are quick to social medialize our current situation. What would our inner current situation resemble on blast? Regardless, in order to commit oneself to praise despite our challenges faced, we need the help of His countenance. Whose? That would be the Lord’s. For His yoke is easy and His burden light (Matthew 11:30). The writer desires for things to be better, and recognizes that the desire can only be met by Jesus the Christ. No matter how terrific things get, we mustn’t allow the enemy to push us to such a state that we forget to remember that our existence, our daily bread is found within God. Despite what we are facing, we can encourage ourselves through the hope of God, while intentionally giving Him glory even in our fragile state! As we do that we are intentionally placing ourselves in the channel to receive the countenance of God which is available to us.
By the time the writer of Psalm 42 reaches verse 11, he has expressed deeper challenges thrust upon him by his enemies. Even amidst stating his current situation, he still has not cut himself off from God. In fact, in verse 10 the writer discusses the difficulty of navigating being mocked by those asking where his God is. At some point, he must have professed his belief in God. At some point, he must have allowed the joy and the assurance and the peace of God to show upon his countenance. When we allow people to see us, and by see us, I mean, allow people to see in us, they are privy to the countenance that is pleased, and the countenance that is troubled. Nevertheless, the writer remained committed to a life of praise. In verse 11 it 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.” Verse 5 reads, “for the help of His countenance.” Verse 11 reads, “who is the health of my countenance.” The transition from for to whom is praise! When we find ourselves in situations that are unimaginable, we must engage in deposits to our inner (wo)man through the vehicle of praise.
God is the health of my countenance! It’s more than the facial expressions. As I praise Him, as I worship Him, I am able to deepen myself and my “current situation” in Him, and that relationship, that peace amidst storm has no choice but to show up in my outer (wo)man. I don’t have to walk around showing my dental work, but instead the health of my countenance is reflected in my assuredness that God is in control and has me on His mind. Whatever is going on around me, no where near compares to God being who He is, so that I can be who I am. I’ve learned that the only way to change my external is to focus on my internal. I am consciously choosing to transition from for to whom. It’s not based upon my clothing. Nor my hair. Good, bad or radical as in the pic. (Shout out to Dr. Angela Davis). I am consciously choosing to transition from for to whom. Daily. Praise. Hourly. Praise. Moment by Moment. Praise. Second by Second. Praise. Praise. Praise.