Have you been in the depths of depression? Are you dealing with it now? You are not alone.
This month I want to look at the topic of depression, particularly depression in men and women in the Bible. Each post will be centered around one person, this week we will focus on the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 42. Many scholars believe that this may have been David, but they are not sure.
We can get a clear picture of the author’s pain by looking at some of the key verses in this Psalm.
- verse 3 “Day and night I lived on my tears, taunted all day with “where is your God?”
- verse 4a “My soul is melting with secret sorrow…”
- verse 5a “Why art thou downcast O my soul? Why so despairing?”
- verse 9 “Why hast thou forgotten me? Why must I mourn as foes oppress me?”
Reading through these verses give us a good overview of how the Psalmist is feeling. I know depression in a very visceral way. I lived with it for ten months a number of years ago. I cried for hours, felt incredible hopelessness and despair, I lived with dread, lost my appetite, and slept away much of each day.
So I hear the author clearly here in Psalm 42 when he speaks of his soul melting in secret sorrow, feeling downcast, feeling despair, living on his tears, feeling forgotten, and just feeling alone. It is overwhelming beyond description.
My depression probably came on gradually but in my busyness I pushed it away until it slammed me down hard. I did the things I needed to do.
- I took medication (which took months to find the right one).
- I went to counselling for help to get to the bottom of what was going on inside.
- I wrote endlessly in my journal to get my feelings and thoughts out.
- I stayed in God’s Word, mostly reading the parts where the authors shared their pain.
But I also did things that were not helpful.
- I isolated myself by locking myself in a room.
- I pushed people away.
- I tried to think of ways to escape the emotional pain (wanting to be numb or dead).
- I held my feelings of anger in until I exploded.
Psalm 42 informs us that the author was isolated and not able to worship in the temple as he previously had. He was being taunted about the seeming powerlessness and absence of his God. He felt abandoned by the Lord and oppressed by his foes. He felt hopelessness but wisely he did not bury his feelings. He turned his feelings into a prayer of desperation to the One he knew could help him. He felt discarded, he mourned, but in that he knew his need for the Lord.
I knew my need for the Lord in my depression also, but I wanted Him to show up by answering the cry of the neediness in my heart my way. I looked for and waited for God to do it my way, but God chose not to do it my way. He had a perfect plan. I remained stuck in my stubborn place like the Israelites in the wilderness.
The Psalmist cried out to be able to come to worship as he had before, he cried for the Lord to quiet the taunting and stop the oppression. He thirsted for God in the midst of his despair.
I thirsted for what I thought I needed alongside of needing God. But God knew that I only needed Him. He knew best, despite my cries to have it my way. He showed me the truth of my situation, He helped me see myself.
I, too, was oppressed, I was weighed down and crushed by the unfulfilled needs and sorrow that had long ago been buried. I was taunted by the cries within; the cries that lied about who I was and blinded me to God’s perfect love. I was tortured by the memory feelings that ripped my heart apart with their painful stabs.
When at last I saw the truth about me, and finally chose to stop seeking help my way. I realized how much I needed to fully depend on the Lord. I repented and in my repentance healing began.
Jehovah Rapha is the Great Physician. He heard my cry for Him to do it His way at last, and He healed me. He didn’t just heal me, as if that wasn’t enough, He drew me to deep intimacy with Him in the process.
The Psalmist had it right. He knew his need was God and he thirsted for Him. He sought after quenching from God alone He recognized his depression and asked himself what was wrong. He talked with the Lord about it.
The Psalmist told himself to wait for God. He knew that God alone was his help. It was the Psalmist’s desire to be praising the Lord again.
Depression is very painful and debilitating but in that dark place we can make a choice to seek the Lord, to repent of known sin, and to pray for healing in His way. He is ever faithful and in His perfect way He satisfies our hearts and souls.
If you are going through depression, seek the Lord. Tell Him your pain, and ask Him in a heartfelt prayer for the help you need. He will meet you in the pain and bring you through.
Next week we will look at the depression Elijah suffered, the fear he dealt with, and the exhaustion that overwhelmed him. We will see how the Lord worked in Elijah’s depression and glean wisdom from his experiences.
It is easy to look at the men and women in the Bible thinking that they are superhuman, and beyond what we have to go through, but as we look closely their weaknesses and neediness becomes real. It is in the dark depths of pain, need, and sorrow where we see the strength of the Lord lift them up and help them go on. We can depend on Him to do the same for us today. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.