A Look at Depression; The Psalmist

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.

 

 

 

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Love in the Loneliness

Until I find community enough in being with Jesus first, the entire restaurant wouldn’t suffice the aching that loneliness hungers to fill.”
Choosing Real Bekah Jane Pogue

Loneliness is very common. Loneliness is a neediness within that eats away at your heart like a cancer.

Loneliness is defined as a “sadness because one has no friends or company.” I think that at first glance this definition may seem true, but when you really think about it, loneliness can be present even in a crowd. It is the depth of connection with a spouse or a friend that bridges the gap. You don’t feel lonely when you feel understood, known, loved, and you’re your heart is safe.

I learned through my depression that the pain and neediness of my heart cried out for understanding and love. My depression left me feeling as if I was drowning, suffocating, and overwhelmed with so much pain. I mostly pushed people away, but when I found that my neediness wouldn’t annihilate another, then I would cling. It was through this that I learned how needy I really was, I became aware of the emptiness and loneliness of my heart. I recognized how much I had been hiding, how deeply my real self was really buried.

It was in the midst of learning these things, in the midst of my clinging to another in hopes for healing, that the Lord made me to know that He wanted me to give Him my neediness.
It is so easy for us to run to others with our needs even when we know that the Lord is the One with the power to heal, to comfort with His love, to give understanding, and to lead in His perfect wisdom.

The Lord wants us to run to Him with our neediness and loneliness. It was when I began to pour out my heart to the Lord, and really give Him my neediness that my healing began. He desired me to see Him as my greatest need, the All-Sufficient One, my Healer.

Life can just be lonely because of the mundane of everyday. We get so busy with all we try to do that our lives may be spent in living solitary lives. If that is where you are at, Pogue suggests that “maybe solitary isn’t something we need to run away from” instead she suggest it may be our cue of to run to the Lord.

Loneliness can flood your heart throughout many moments of life for many very different reasons, the loss of friendship, the death of a loved one, moving away, isolation, or divorce. It is in these times we need to cry out to the Lord. Maybe it’s just the day and the way it’s going down, or maybe it’s the place you are in life right now, that the string of days, weeks, or even months leave you feeling lonely. Cry out to God. He hears and He answers our prayers. He deeply cares about the neediness in our hearts.

Remember, after you give the Lord the neediness of your heart to look for His answer. It is easy to miss His answers when one’s mind is set on wanting the prayer answered in our own specific way. I share this thought out of my own experience, because it was what happened with me in my depression. I knew what I felt my heart needed and I prayed for the Lord to do it my way. Instead, He showed me His way repeatedly, He wanted me to trust Him with my neediness. He wants to be the One we run to, He wants to be the One to meet our needs in the perfect ways that come out of His wisdom and love.

So, from our knees in prayer, we must get up and look to see what He is doing, where He is leading, who He is bringing or in some cases, whom He has already brought that we have missed. He knows who He has put in your life, or wants to put in your life. He knows the purpose for which He brings them.

I believe that as He sees and hears us bringing the neediness of our hearts, He will lead us to the quenching of the thirst in our loneliness through relationship with Himself, as well as with specific people He puts in community around us. He has a beautiful way of touching our neediness with His love so specific to our personal desires. He truly satisfies our hearts when we give Him the need and trust Him for the answer.

Are you lonely today? Call out to the Lord with your need.

Do you know someone who is lonely? Ask the Lord if there is a way to meet that person with His love.

The Lord is always near and never will abandon or forsake us. In moments of loneliness cling to Him and watch Him work! He is at work because He loves you!