The Bible's PDR
[NOTE: I leave in just over an hour for a cruise with my wife and won't be back until the evening of July 29th. You may leave your comments, but they won't be posted until then. I had to take that action after some less savory types were leaving offensive comments -- blog bombs -- back a few months ago. Sorry for the inconvenience]
Doctors have a very large blue book in their office. It is the Physician's Desk Reference, commonly known as the PDR. It has a full description of every prescription medicine available in the United States along with indications, contraindications, side effects, chemical makeup, metabolism rate, etc. It has a central section with photographs of each pill so that stray medications can be identified. Reading the PDR can be unsettling as the side effects of medications can be frightening. For example, people take Valium for depression and anxiety and the side effects of Valium are... you guess it... depression and anxiety! Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
The Bible has a PDR. We call it the poetry section of the Old Testament: Job, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Proverbs. Let's look at Psalms this week while I am out of the country. If you are suffering with depression, anxiety, or stress; if you are working on getting through your days and want to arrive at tomorrow with a modicum of sanity, here are some ideas to get you started in your search of God's PDR.
1. Read through the Psalms, but only the first two or three verses of each psalm. Do it quickly and notice how the effect is somewhat like an amusement park ride. He's up, he's down, he's confident, he's angry, he's joyful, he's depressed.... keep reading. See that God is fully aware of how squirrelly we are and how we swing from one mood to another based on a wide variety of internals and externals. "He remembers that we are dust..."
2. Think of someone you know: a woman who is pregnant for the first time, someone experiencing the empty nest and not taking it well, a person who just got the job they wanted, or the man who just lost one... you get the idea. Happy or sad, new experiences or situations, think of that person. Now, go through the Psalms, turning pages, reading a line or two here and there. You will find that some passages leap out at you and speak directly to the emotions of the individual you were thinking about. It's uncanny. Give it an hour and see what happens.
3. Read the paper or watch the news and then go back through the Psalms. You will find that they speak directly to people who are suffering the events the news recounts. Think of a young girl in Haifa as the rockets fall around her. In the 60's (the Psalms in that section) you find prayers that speak of evil falling down around a terrified person, fires in the night, cries and chaos in the city. The Psalms work from that point to a place of faith and strength. Try it once a day and see what insights come to you.
4. Can't or won't read? Get the Psalms on CD or MP3. Use them instead of music or talk radio for two weeks and see what happens to you. You will be amazed.
5. When you find a Psalm that speaks of your heart and mind that particular day, use it in your prayers. Read it out loud to God, sing any songs that it brings to mind, and end your prayer with a time of quiet meditation -- just a few minutes.
Thank God for understanding us and giving us this rich source of emotions linked to words so that we could find a way to speak to Him -- and understand ourselves -- as we walk on this often perilous journey. Check out God's PDR and we'll see you at our next appointment -- in a week.