Panic and Depression; August 19, 2019


Psalm 77:12 I will meditate on all your works
and consider all your mighty deeds.

We don’t know what situation the Psalmist was encountering, but the first nine verses indicate it was severe enough to get him pretty depressed. His turning point comes in verse ten, when he decides to get objective about his situation, and then this verse specifies more detail as to how he will go about it. Both panic and depression come from a failure to look to God. Panic comes when we focus on our external circumstances, and depression comes when we focus on our internal resources. In a lot of situations those are both very logical responses, but neither is very productive. What enables us to make headway out of whatever our situation might be is to focus on the One who is never at a loss for what to do, has the power to do anything at all, and who loves us enough to have sent His Son to die in our place so that we might have eternal life. The Psalmist didn’t know that last part, but he did know all that God had done for the people of Israel, and that was enough. The Japanese translation of this verse includes an interesting detail: “I will think quietly about Your works.” It can be very hard to get our hearts quiet in a crisis! The first nine verses indicate the Psalmist’s heart was far from quiet to this point! However, this comes back to a truth that is found throughout the Bible: life is a matter of choices. Things happen to everyone, as Jesus famously reminded us. (John 16:33) The outcome depends to a great extent on how we respond to those things. The Psalmist made the choice to stop responding based on himself, and start responding based on God. That is the wisest thing anyone can do.

This is a very good reminder to me, because it certainly represents my experience. I have had times of panic and times of depression, and I am still tempted to both of those responses at times. However, I have experienced God’s faithfulness more than I could possibly express, and when I get quiet enough to think about that, gratitude and faith replace the panic and depression. Frankly, there is no end to the stream of “stuff” I’m in the middle of. The more I focus on the “stuff” and my personal ability to deal with it, the more agitated I get. It is when I choose to be objective and focus on God that peace comes, and often the wisdom and/or guidance as to how to deal with the “stuff.” Right now health issues and computer issues and the sudden death of an acquaintance are all at hand. I find that Psalm 73:25-26 comes to mind frequently: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” As long as I have that focus, I can get through anything.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that the photo show ends today, and we can get back to a more normal schedule. Thank You that Cathy and I will each be able to visit our respective doctors after we take down the show. I ask for Your strength, physical and emotional, for all we will be doing today, and I thank You for it in advance. May we indeed rest, relax, and rejoice in You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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