Adrian Rogers once observed that as a pastor he had learned there is a heartache in every pew, and—as the old Spanish proverb says—“There is no home without its hush.”
We all have storms and difficulties. But what many of us experience goes beyond just feeling “down.” It becomes depression—a despair so deep it has put many in the hospital and quite a few in the grave. Depression is a killer, and God’s people are not immune.
Feeling “down” is like a thunderstorm that comes and goes, but depression is a lingering fog that takes the sunshine out of life. Hopelessness overshadows life. We think we may never recover. We wonder, “Will I ever know joy? Will I ever smile again?”
If this sounds familiar, you’re in good company. Some of God’s greatest servants found themselves there.
Moses got so depressed, he asked God to kill him. Jonah did the same. Elijah sat under a juniper tree and wished he might die. The apostle Paul talked of despairing even of life. John the Baptist’s despair had him doubting for a moment that Jesus was the Messiah.
Winston Churchill called depression “a black dog” chasing after him. Charles Spurgeon, perhaps the greatest preacher who ever lived, had times of depression. So did Abraham Lincoln.
And so did King David, a man after God’s own heart. Betrayed by Absalom, a beloved son, David lost his wealth, home, power, and fled for his life. Absalom is killed and David weeps, “…would to God I had died for thee, Absalom.”
On top of that, David had sinned against God and lost an infant child he loved. Things could not have looked worse when he penned Psalm 42, almost a clinical description of depression.
But God has made provision. You don’t have to be depressed. Psalm 42 gives you three things to do.
Look within—analyze your heart.
David began talking to himself—to his soul. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me?” (Psalm 42:5). The soul is the “you” that lives inside, your emotions, mind, and will. Someone inside—that old nature, unredeemed, unsanctified—is constantly talking to you, saying, “You have reason to feel sorry for yourself. You’ll never make it. Life isn’t worth living.” This is where you must take control. Take your soul by the nape of the neck, look your soul straight in the eye and say, “Soul, why are you feeling this way?” That’s what David did (v. 5).
Look upward—recognize your help.
You may have good reasons to be depressed. You may feel God has let you down—David felt that way. You may have a broken heart. Perhaps you’re haunted by the ghost of guilt. But God has not forgotten. Pour your grief out to God. He knows, understands, and cares. He is your help even when you cannot understand. Life is not over for you.
Yet the LORD will command His lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. (v. 8)
David looks upward. “God, You are my help, my hope; You will command Your lovingkindness to me.”
Look onward—realize your hope.
…Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him who is the health of my countenance, and my God. (v. 11)
You are here by God’s appointment, in His keeping, under His training, for His time. No matter what is happening, it’s not God’s final plan. However bleak your circumstances, God is with you.
For I know the thoughts I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11)
And hope does not mean a vain wish. It is a definite assurance based in anticipation. Don’t lose hope! God has a future filled with hope for you. God loves you and He’s going to meet the deepest needs of your heart. He’s going to turn your Calvary into an Easter and your heartache to a hallelujah.
So don’t let Satan blow out the candle of hope in your life. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without His notice. Though Christians are not immune to trials, tribulation, pain and suffering, take comfort in knowing God will see you through.
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