“Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me?” (Psalm 42:5, HCSB)
There seems to be a stigma to those Christ-followers who profess some sort of sadness of soul these days. Critics scorn them with pious platitudes like, “How can you be sad when God is so great?”
But such ridicule is more theoretical than real-life. Those who would verbally abuse the beaten-down have yet to taste the power of pain and the searing suffering so common in today’s real world.
The psalmists were no strangers to such depression. And as they meditated on their woeful situation, they wrote about it. The lyrics of their lament became encapsulated in the book of Psalms for weary wanderers in this world of woe.
- When depressed, we are told to seek God’s presence. (Ps 42.1-3) Phrases like “long for You, God” and “thirst for God, the living God” remind us that the only source of true emotional healing is to be found in the joyous presence of our Lord. (Ps 16.11)
- When depressed, we are told to remember God’s worship. (Ps 42.4) The psalmists turn their attention to the joy-filled days when they participated in the worship procession. We are reminded here that most depressed children of God (then and now) fail to return to worship until the dark clouds have passed.
- When depressed, we are told to focus on God’s hope. (Ps 42.5) “I will still praise Him, my Savior and My God.” At the heart of help for the depressed is the hope that God will rescue. Whatever the circumstances that led to the ingrained injury to the soul, God is able to rescue. That hope can bring help and healing.
- When depressed, we are told to remember God’s works. (Ps 42.6-7) So many times depression seeps into the heart and mind because of the apparent hopelessness of our situation. The majesty of God’s greatness can pull one away from the torrent of one’s turmoil. Viewing nature firsthand reminds us that, like the cascading waterfall, God’s power can restore what life has torn away.
- When depressed, we are told to await God’s faithful love. (Ps 42.8). Throughout the Old Testament we are confronted by the “hesed” of God. Translated a number of ways, it carries with it the unending, unbreakable love, care and compassion of a Father who never leaves or forsakes His child. While it may seem God has forgotten you, the reality is God is on the way to help. Wait for it!
- When depressed, we are told to question God’s distance. (Ps 42.9-10) This is not the rebellious disrespect of the angry, but the confused pleas of a wounded child. The psalmists instruct us to ask our loving Father, “Why?” in anticipation of His loving, compassionate response of rescue.
Ultimately, when depressed, we are told to hope in God! (Ps 42. 11) The chorus of this song of worship (see verse 5) is sung again: “Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5, HCSB) After all, He is our only hope for healing. Only He can rescue and redeem our lives from the pit we are in.