The Torn Soul
Key Text — Proverbs 27:9b (RSV)
The soul is torn by trouble. Our soul is so fragile that it can be torn by troubles.
The word “torn” connotes “being pulled apart; to be rended; being wrenched apart; being broken; split or burst.”
The chief culprit that tears our soul apart; that pulls our soul apart; that wrenches our soul apart; that breaks our soul; that splits our soul; that bursts our soul; that rends our soul is TROUBLE.
The Dictionary defines “trouble” as “disturbance; affliction; agitation; distress or inconveniences.”
Troubles can come to us because of our sins, our enemies; our circumstances; our fallen world or even from Satan.
In Psalms 88:3 (KJV), David declares, “For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto grave.”
Troubles are no respecter of man. As long as you are born of woman and are in this planet Earth, you are sure to get your full share of troubles.
Job 14:1 (RSV) – Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.
Because of troubles, our soul, which comprises of our will, emotion and mind, can be torn.
This morning, my message is directed to those souls that are torn by trouble. My title therefore is ‘THE TORN SOUL.’
(I) What Happens to our Trouble-Torn Souls?
1. It Becomes Cast Down & Disquieted
Psalms 42:5 (KJV) – Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of his countenance.
V6- O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.
In this Psalm, we see David being torn in his soul by the trouble brought about by the taunting of his enemies.
Psalmist David here analyzes his trouble-torn soul and asks questions of himself. The question reflects the emotional state of many of God’s people during any crisis situation. The inner feelings express themselves in question, despair and hope in God. The questions are overtaking him. Yet, while hemmed in by the question in his desperate situation, he still could engage himself in dialogue. There was no voice from God. In the loneliness of alienation, his faith was tried and triumphed. Yet, in spite of his reflection and expression of the triumph of hope, the experience of alienation is still there. He is still “down cast” (v6). Therefore he returns in his memories to the Promised Land, symbolized here by the “land of Jordan, the heights of Hermon” (v6). The upper Jordan Valley, the Herman Range with its peak reaching nine thousand feet above sea level, and the unknown Mount Mizar point our attention to the region of the source of the Jordan River. David returns to the water imagery with which the Psalm began. But this time the metaphor of water are overshadowed by a deep sense of despair. The waterfalls with its rocks, breakers and waves and its awesome noise of the rushing and falling waters metaphorically portrays his condition. Instead of enjoying the “living water” of the “living God”, he is continually faced with an expression of God’s judgment. He has no control over his present circumstances and undergoes the present troubles, not knowing where he will end up.
This is exactly what will happen to our soul that is torn by trouble. We will feel very downcast inside. Even though we know we have to hope in our Living God to refresh us with His Living Water, still there is the foreboding feeling that God is silent; that He is judging us and we become downcast within. Our soul becomes disquieted, as if it is living in the land of the silence. We come to church, no more having the desire or the feeling to sing and praise God. We don’t even have the desire to talk to anyone or even to God. We just want to dwell in the “land of silence” (Psalm 94:17).
2. It Cleaves to the Dust
Psalm 119:25 (KJV)- My soul cleaveth unto the dust.
LB- I am completely discouraged.
Here again, David’s soul is torn by persecution of men.
When our soul is torn by trouble, we will feel completely discouraged. It is as if our lives hit the dust.
We are not foreign to this emotion called “discouragement”.
There is a legend that Satan decided to get rid of a number of his tools, so he arranged an auction. There were envy, deceit, malice, sensuality, enmity, thoughtlessness and many other tools which Satan had used successfully and priced very low. One piece, marked very high, was labeled “Discouragement.” “Why do you want so much for this tool?” asked one bidder. “This tool,” replied the old tempter, “has always been my most useful one. I can pry open and get inside a person’s heart with that one, when I cannot get near him with other tools. Now once I get inside, I can make him do what I choose. It’s a badly worn tool because I use it on almost everyone since few people know it belongs to me.” The devil’s price for discouragement was so high, he never sold it. It’s still his major tool and he still uses it on God’s people today.
3. It Melts Away
Psalm 119:28 (KJV)- My soul melteth for heaviness
NIV- My soul is weary with sorrow.
The word “melt” implies “weeping”. A torn soul melts with weeping. David is crying, “I have collapsed with intense sorrow.” The “sorrow” here is not a casual tear but the sense of grief and vexation.
As a Christian, I couldn’t count the number of occasions when I have wept with intense sorrow and grief. I have cried so intensely that migraine would hit me for several days and my eyes would be swollen till I had to hide away from church office for a few days. That is what a soul torn by trouble would experience – melting away in intense sorrow and grief.
F. B Meyer says, “Scripture never condemns grief. Tears are valuable. They are God’s given relief mechanism. There are some who chide tears as unmanly, unsubmissive, unchristian. They would comfort us with a chill and pious stoicism, bidding us meet the most agitating passages of our history with rigid and tearless countenance. With such the spirit of the Gospel and of the Bible, has little sympathy. We have no sympathy with a morbid sentimentality; but we may well question whether the man who cannot weep can really love; for sorrow is love, widowed and bereaved – and where that is present, its most natural expression is in tears. Religion does not come to make us unnatural and inhuman; but to purify and ennoble all those natural emotions with which our manifold nature is endowed. Jesus wept. Peter wept. The Ephesian converts wept on the neck of the Apostle whose face they were never to see again. Christ stands by each sorrowful believer, saying, “Weep, my child; weep, for I have wept.” Tears relieve the burning brain, as a shower the electric clouds. Tears discharge the insupportable agony of the heart, as an overflow lessens the pressure of the flood against the dam. Tears are the material out of which heaven weaves its brightest rainbow.
4. It is trapped in Prison
Psalms 142:7 (KJV)- Bring my soul out of prison.
In other words, David is crying, “I am in DESPERATE NEED ….MY PRISON. “Prison” denotes actual imprisonment but it also may be a metaphor for our DESPERATE CONDITION in the light of adversity and isolation.
Somehow, trouble has a way to make our soul feel as if it is imprisoned, isolated and trapped. Because of this trapped feeling, we became desperate and began to cry out for help.
You can ask any soul that is torn by trouble in the marriage and they will describe their condition as “prison”…. “I feel that my soul is trapped in this unholy marriage.” Or “I feel that my soul is trapped in this unhappy employment.”
A torn soul feels trapped and imprisoned.
5. It Needs Strengthening
Psalms 138:3 (KJV) – In the day when I cried thou answeredst me and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.
LB- When I pray, you answer me and encourage me by giving me the strength I need.
A torn soul would always cry to God to receive the strength it so badly needs.
(II) Way out for the torn soul
1. Let Jesus Satisfy and Replenish You
Jeremiah 31:25 (RSV)- For I will satisfy the weary soul and every languishing soul I will replenish.
The “weary” souls here are referring to those souls that are torn by troubles. They are the worn-out souls.
The word “languishing souls” denote “those who are weak, faint; those who are in the depressing and painful condition.”
The word “replenish” means “to fill up again.”
Here, Jesus promises the torn and weary soul that He will satisfy them. Those who are weak, faint, in depressing and painful condition, He will you fill you up again.
There are always the weary who need rest; the sorrowful who need consolation. Naturally our souls have restless longings and large desires that go out beyond the present and the attainable. The soul has its appetites, its hunger and its thirst. Worse, sin and sorrow have deepened our need.
The bad news is- NO EARTHLY SATISFACTION WILL MEET THESE NEEDS. Food for the body cannot satisfy the soul. Man is not to live by bread alone. The life is more than meat. We are too large for the world and its gifts, rich and abundant as they may be. Hence the restlessness and dissatisfaction we experience in this life.
Only God can offer us full satisfaction. Only Jesus will satisfy – satiate (KJV). God gives all we need. God does not keep his children on half-rations. He has rich stores and He offers freely. From our broken cisterns we turn to His ever-flowing fountains.
What God gives is what our soul really needs – true light, not mocking speculation; Divine consolation of hope and peace, not barren philosophical maxims; full and free forgiveness not pseudo sense of security.
What God does, He does perfectly. He does not call us to a bare salvation but to a FULL satisfaction, meeting the deep wants of the soul with the special satisfaction we need and bestowing this to the fullest.
Are you lacking in your soul today because of trouble? Is your soul very weary and depressed? Is your soul very dissatisfied with this life? Then go to Jesus- He is the only one who could satisfy you and fill you up to the brim.
I was telling Joy a few days ago that it was because my soul was torn by the guilt of my sins that I came to Jesus. Had my soul not been afflicted, I would have never come to know our Lord Jesus Christ. So, a torn soul is a good thing if you can turn it to Jesus to satisfy, heal and replenish. I remember those times when I was in college. I was having trouble in my family- parents quarrelling and splitting up; family business going bankrupt; studies failing and relationship breaking up. All these troubles weighed my soul down. I was so torn up within, I had no where to turn except to the Bible and to the Christian counsel of my born-again classmate. From there I found my Living Water. I found the only one who could satiate my thirst for forgiveness and peace; my hunger for strength, hope and comfort. I found the strength in my soul to face my seemingly bleak future and when I turned my life over to Jesus, He gave me hope and a future. Today, the issues that bugged me 29 years ago were all gone. I didn’t have to deal with the guilt issue over my sin anymore. If ever I have troubles in my soul today, they have nothing to do with what happened 29 years ago. They are a new set of life’s challenges which I have to face. But truly, as I looked back, I realized that the torn condition of my soul during my college days had all been taken care by my the Satisfier and the Replenisher of my Soul- Jesus. Today, if you were to look at me, I don’t come off to all of you as a weak soul but a soul that has fortitude and strength because I turned my torn soul to Jesus and He was the one who fills me up with His strength. I never regret knowing Christ. I never regret serving God in this church. If ever I regret anything concerning Christianity, it is not Christ and His ministry.
(III) Let Jesus Carry You
Isaiah 46:3-4 (RSV) –“Hearken to me, O house of Jacob and all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb;
V4- even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save (KJV-deliver).
Even mother soon grows tired of carrying the child and leaves him to shift for himself. But God’s tender care for his people lasts from their infancy, through their boyhood and manhood, to their old age. The everlasting arms never weary. God’s watchfulness, His providence, His protection, never fails.
The world does not want us when we are worn out and torn up. We hear so many stories of young Americans who just dump their aged parents at the old aged home, once their parents become worn out by age and torn up by disease like Parkinson or Alzheimer. At the time when the world draws off, God comes nearer. Weakness is always welcome to Him. God loves to comfort. His infinite strength is not weakened by all the failures of helps by others. Wherever, in age, sickness confines us or troubles tear us down, there is our Father. Even when our soul faint and fail, He is there for us.
Here in Isaiah, we see the promises of God to the torn soul:
1) “I will carry you”
The word “carry” signifies “to sustain any pressure, or bear any burden.” It speaks of God’s readiness to help us when we seem likely to be overborne and pressed down by troubles and burden of life, even old age.
When God promises that He will carry us, it implies weakness and inability in us but support and assistance from Him.
Did you ever see a little child hanging upon its mother’s gown, crying to be carried, and the cry answered with a kind word and many a kiss? I remember when Joy was one and the half years old, she felt very insecure because she knew I was carrying a second child and soon her position as the only child would be usurped by Jan. At that time, we brought her back to Singapore for the first time. I was already 8 months pregnant. There in Singapore, because of new environment with many new faces, she always wanted me to carry her. She would tug at the hem of my dress to be carried. I wanted to so much to carry her but I could only do so for 3 minutes and I had to put her down again because of my big tummy. Until today, I regretted that I did not carry and kiss her enough to assure her that I still love her and that Jan could never take her place. That’s why until today, there is always this ceaseless sibling rivalry between the two.
But our God is not like me. Each time, we feel insecure or we feel torn and troubled, Jesus would reach down to embrace us and carry us.
The picture of God carrying us is best portrayed by the Koreans in many of their dramas. You will never fail to see a Korean drama go by without a scene of the guy carrying or piggy back a drunken girl or a sick girl. That is the picture of the stronger one carrying the weaker one.
“Does my heavenly Father really care for me?” The words came from a lady sitting by an open window; her brow bore the trace of care and sadness; her eyes were swollen with tears. Within two years, death had thrice entered the home circle. Her husband and her two children, whose smiles made home happy were sleeping in the graveyard near by. As her bereavement, her loneliness, her blighted prospects recurred to her mind, she exclaimed almost with a spirit that questioned its Maker’s goodness, “Does my heavenly Father really care for me?” A servant girl, who perhaps scarcely knew she was doing anything for the Master, passed by the window singing:
“Though waves and storms go o’er my head;
Though strength and health and friends be gone;
Though joys be withered all and dead;
Though every comfort be withdrawn-
On this my steadfast soul relies,
Father, Thy mercy never dies.”
The cadences (verses) of those beautiful words, borne on the still summer air, found an echo in that stricken, torn soul. She rose from her reverie (trance) of sadness, wiped away the falling tears and looking not toward the silent tomb where bodies were crumbling to dust but to the spirit-land where her loved ones had gone and she said with a faith she had never before known: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”
God carried this bereaved woman through with a song. Many times, God will strengthen our weary and torn soul with His word through the Bible and perhaps even through Christian songs.
Indeed, God carries His children in their journey, when fatigued with trials. God delivers us in trouble. A state of trouble is a state of trial. God also delivers us by trouble.
2) “I will bear you”
The word “bear” signifies “to support and sustain; to exalt or elevate. It may denote “lifting up the soul in joy and comfort.”
Today, I want to speak words of comfort to the aged. Your trouble today is in the weakening of your senses and your body. You find yourselves needing the help of others almost as much as you did in your infancy. The faculties of your soul languish. Your relish for company, business and pleasure is gone. You find your thoughts very confusing and your affection for divine things wanes and you cannot serve God with such fixedness of heart, such warmth and zeal and love as you had done before. What you read and hear quickly slips away and your minds are no longer easily impressed with divine truths. In these melancholy circumstances, God will bear and lift up your souls. He will in His wonderful way strengthen the powers of your mind. Under the infirmities of your heath, He will strengthen you and encourage you to have faith in His promises. To the Christian pilgrim old age will be a Beulah land where he can revel in the shining glories of the heavenly city.
3) “I will deliver you”
“I will carry and deliver you.” What we could not bear away, God, in person of His Son will do for us. “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
I had finished my sermon on Christ’s invitation to the labored and heavy laden, and a good man came to me, saying, “Do you know why Christ’s yoke is light, sir?” “Well,” I said, “because the good Lord helps us to carry it, I suppose.” “No,” said he, shaking his head. “I think I know better than that. You see, when I was a boy at home I used to drive the oxen and the yoke was never made to balance – as you said. Father’s yokes were always made heavier on one side than the other. Then we would put a weak bullock alongside a strong bullock; and the light end would come on the weak ox, the heavier end of the stronger one. “That’s why the Lord’s yoke is easy and His burden light, because His yoke is made the same pattern and the heavy end is upon His shoulder.”
Like the song says, “If He carries the weight of the world upon His shoulder, I know my brother that He will carry you.”
These words “carry and deliver” stand in contrast to what is said in verse 1 and 2 of Isaiah 46, about the idol gods of the Chaldeans. Idolaters carry their gods, but our God carries us. Images are borne about in procession or are packed up and laid on beast of burden. The same may be said of creature confidences. Earthly possessions, instead of being a blessing, often become a burden and a snare. Trust in man is often met by unfaithfulness and betrayal. Sinful pleasure proves a clog and a hindrance. Unable to support or deliver, these gods become burdens, drags, encumbrances which must be supported.
Cardinal Wolsey, the Minister of King Henry VIII, was deserted and disgraced by the king in his old age. In the agony of his mind the Cardinal exclaimed, “Had I but served my God with half the zeal I have served my king, He would not have forsaken me in my old age.”
Serve God now, in the place of your service; and if you live to be old, He will perform to you the promise of this text – “even to your old age or your gray hair, I will carry you and I will deliver you.” Whatever idols you are serving now, whether it is men, possession or power- they will fail you. They will not carry and deliver you when your soul so need them to.
These words “I will carry and deliver you” also express the character of God’s care for us. He is both father and mother to us. Not only does God nurse us in infancy and childhood, but even to old age.
And look at the deliverance He will work for us – from accident (Jan’s accident) and sickness (my H fever), from the burden of sin (the sin of the land) and the onset of temptation (my temptation to quit)! How marvelous have been His patience with us and His providential care! He will preserve us and deliver us from every trouble.
Why would God carry us when our soul is torn? He tells us the reason in verse 4 – Because “I have made you.” God seems to make this declaration with pleasure. It lets us think of it with gratitude. Are our bodies fearfully and wonderfully made? Have we not an intellectual part, which distinguishes us from the animals? Have we not a soul which shall never die? We are paying attention but it is not our bodies which are doing this. There is an inhabitant within us that peeps out at the windows of our bodies, sees and hears and is collecting knowledge on which it may live and be happy when the house of these bodies totter with age and is crumbling into dust. The Psalmists says, “He has made me and fashioned me.” God has made me what is called a man. But there is a higher sense of the expression, “I have made.” Has God made you a NEW MAN? (2 Cor) Have you had a second birth? (John 3). This second creation far exceeds the first; it is the best of God’s works – the creation of a Christian out of a mere man.
You and your being – that includes your body, soul and spirit are made by God. So when God sees trouble tearing your soul up, God will not forget us because “thou hast a desire to the work of thy hands’ (Job). He will step in and carry us, bear us and deliver us. But are we willing to humble ourselves and come to God and throw our entire burden and weight on God?
It takes humility to be carried. I remember Joy’s story about her first year in her university where she had to join this orientation program for all the in-house students of the campus dormitory. Every girl had to jump onto the back of a guy and the guy had to piggy back the girl from one end to the other. Joy was so upset with me that I was the one who told her to join this sport. She felt so humbled being piggy backed by a stranger. Yes – to be carried is humbling but that is the way God would bear you up with His might and strength. You have to humble yourself and come right to Him and confessed – “God, I can’t handle this life anymore. My soul is tearing apart and I can’t take a step further. Please as I cast myself before you, carry me. You can carry me because You are mighty and I am weak. I have to cast my whole burden and weight upon your back.”
Is your soul torn by trouble today? And because of this, is your soul downcast and disquieted within you? Is your soul cleaving to the dust and melting in sorrow? Is it imprisoned, isolated and crying desperately to be free and to be strengthened? If so, come to Jesus. Only Jesus can satisfy your weary soul and replenish your languishing soul – your soul that is weak, faint and in depressing and painful condition. Not only that, He wants to carry you, bear you and deliver you. Are you humble enough for Him to carry the burden and the sorrows of your soul?
End of Sermon