Soothing the Soul

Do you ever get agitated?  Do you ever feel the need for something to soothe you on the inside?

Maybe you grab a hot drink, or eat chocolate, or turn on the radio, or call a friend.  There are many ways we look to “soothe the soul”, and that’s what I want to investigate with you here.

Comfort Zone

When we are stretched or taken out of our normal pattern we can feel like we are out of our “comfort zone”.  The first day at a new school or workplace can be outside our comfort zone.  But in time we become very familiar and comfortable with those surroundings.

An emergency or crisis can completely throw us out of our comfort zone.  Getting back to normal is then a wonderful relief.  It soothes the soul.

You may have felt soothed on arriving home after a really hectic day or a long time away.  You may feel that soothing sense when you reconnect with your extended family, or go back to the place of your childhood.

Choose Your Addiction

Most of the time we have to rely on something close at hand to bring us the inner soothing we might seek.  That’s why people turn to their addictions for a dose of comfort.

They might light up a cigarette, drink a coffee, sneak some chocolate, go to the movies, rush off for some retail therapy, have a facial, do an extra session at the gym, call a friend or get buried in work.  The list is endless.

Sadly many turn to prescription drugs to relieve their feelings and end up addicted to a chemical prop that reduces their ability to cope with life and find the better solutions they need.

What do you gravitate to when you feel uncomfortable on the inside?

The True Anchor

Take note that the Bible refers to an “anchor of the soul”.  Our sense of being safe and soothed on the inside has been provided for by God.  We may not need all that chocolate (apologies to all those chockaholics!)

If we have a sufficient “anchor” for our soul we won’t need to rush off for something to soothe us.  Our “comfort zone” will be much wider and we will not find ourselves feeling the same duress we might otherwise have felt.

The Book of Hebrews in the New Testament talks about a “hope” that is the “anchor of our soul”.

“We have a hope that is an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which relates to things within the veil” Hebrews 6:19

Hope as Our Soul Soother

The anchor of our soul is not retail therapy or any of those other things we rely on to soothe our soul.  The anchor is much more effective than the temporary relief we might get from a hot drink or a chat with a friend.  The anchor holds our soul firm even in the face of terrible storms.

And that anchor is “hope”.  It is the hope we have in God.

Reference to the anchor of our soul in Hebrews is in the context of the “hope set before us”.

“We who have fled for refuge have strong consolation through two indestructible things in which it was impossible for God to lie, enabling us to lay hold on the hope set before us” Hebrews 6:18

Our soul is soothed by our confidence in God that He has everything under control and has told us the truth about His promises and blessings.  This is a powerful source of comfort.  It is a “strong consolation”.

God cannot lie, so we can find consolation and hope in the things He has promised us.

Hope in God

This hope we have in God was also relied upon to soothe the soul by King David, 1,000 years before the book of Hebrews was written.

When King David found himself struggling on the inside he spoke to his inner self, his soul, and instructed it to “hope in God”!

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted in me? Hope in God: for I will yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” Psalm 42:5

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted in me? Hope in God: for I will yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Psalm 43:5

This is the same concept as the “anchor of the soul”, of putting our hope in God and finding “strong consolation” by doing so.

Get an Anchor

If you are often looking for something to soothe you on the inside then you need more than a soother.  You need an anchor.

And if you are going through a tough time, maybe through sickness, financial challenges, relationship issues, failure, shame, or whatever, be sure to get an “anchor” rather than some temporary soother.

There are seasons that really stretch us.  If we don’t have an anchor we will turn to our various soothers and they may end up enslaving us in addiction.  I am afraid the drug companies are not ashamed to exploit your weak moments to get you relying on their medications for the rest of your life.

If you have an “anchor” you don’t need the temporary relievers.  Those things don’t have the impact of an anchor.

Practical Application

I am in a long term challenge.  We are taking on issues of bank fraud, injustice in the courts and treason in the political and social structures.  It’s not a challenge that goes away on the weekends.  And the struggle to this point has seen us evicted from our home twice.

So I know what it is like to be hankering for something to soothe my ruffled feelings.  A quiet cup of coffee, a belly full of food, sitting in some warm and comfortable place with no interruptions – these are things I find soothing.

But I have also found that turning to God and hoping in Him has brought much greater inner strength and comfort than the comforts my body or mind can gain.

So I speak from experience when I encourage you to “Hope in God”! Find Him and His promises as the anchor of your soul.

Your Soul is in the Way

In a day when psychoanalysis is trendy and just about anyone who is anyone has their own psychologist we can lose sight of the Biblical realities about our inner life. The truth is that your soul gets in the way of your freedom and happiness.

What is the Soul?

Freud dissected the inner workings of the human mind with his Id, Ego and Super-ego. Many others have thrown their own two-pence worth into the ring, hoping to make much more than two-pence out of it. So the water is pretty muddy for anyone trying to understand the mind and man’s inner self.

When I studied first year Psych at Sydney University in the early 1970’s much of the course consisted of learning about competing schools of psychological thought. Each one seemed to make sense in its own right, but none could co-exist in harmony with the other. Psychology was a free-for-all game of eclectic self-determined theories and therapies. Things are even worse with the passage of a generation.

The Bible presents a very workable dissection of the human condition, given by the Apostle Paul in a letter he wrote to one of the churches he established, in Thessaloniki. In his first letter to the Thessalonians he prays that God will preserve their spirit, soul and body.

“… I pray to God that your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” Paul, 1Thessalonians 5:23b

Spirit, Soul and Body

The Spirit of a man is that internal part which enables the man to relate to God. This part is somewhat unfamiliar to us, since westerners do not give particular attention to their spirit. It may be best understood by saying that it is the internal part of us that is not our soul. Man’s conscience is part of his spirit.

The Soul of a man is that internal part which enables the man to relate to the world around him. This includes the mind, emotions and will, or thoughts, feelings and choices.

The Body is the physical and visible person.

Spirit in Control

Man was originally designed to be in intimate fellowship with God, so man was created to live out of his Spirit. The Spirit is meant to be in control of each person’s life. Note that Paul listed man’s components by itemising the spirit first. Mankind is ‘spirit, soul and body’, not ‘body, soul and spirit’. The spirit is supposed to be pre-eminent.

However, when Adam and Eve ate of forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, they chose to make their spirit secondary to the soul. They exalted their mind, emotions and will over their conscience.

Soul in Control

What we have now is mankind living out of the soul. Our mind, emotions and will demand to be gratified. We demand to understand things. We react to anything that upsets our feelings. We refuse to yield our will.

The soul is in control in humanity. That’s why the soul is in the way. The soul blocks our ability to live out of our spirit, because it won’t give up its place of executive control over our lives.

For example, consider a person who feels touched by God and who wants to drop their career and dedicate their life to Christian ministry. What are the things that their friends say to them? People will tell them it doesn’t make sense (that’s the Mind issue). People will say they don’t feel right about them throwing away their studies and career (that’ the Emotions). Others will challenge the decision and pressure the person to re-think their decision (that’s related to the Will).

The person will have their own battles with their mind, emotions and will when they sense God leading them to a radical decision.

God Separates Soul and Spirit

The Bible speaks much about our soul and spirit. Just one verse will be sufficient to show that God wants us to separate our mind, emotions and will away from our spirit.

“For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

We are not going to fulfil the perfect will of God by having our soul in command. We will live by faith and please God more, by being led by the Spirit of God.

The book of Hebrews exalts the Bible as being God’s tool for piercing into people’s lives and separating the soul and spirit.

Your highly trained mind will not make you a better Christian. Your strength of emotion or will is not an asset when it comes to living for God. You are much better off learning how to put your soul (mind, emotions and will) in their place, under the Lordship of Christ and out of the way, so they don’t interfere with your life in the Spirit.