Depression; March 20, 2023

Psalm 13:2, 5-6 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
for he has been good to me.

Various figures in the Bible would today probably be diagnosed as “bipolar.” However, strong emotions aren’t necessarily a sign of weakness, much less disease. Josephus recorded that Jesus was known for mood swings, and an honest reading of the Gospels will bear that out. Here, David is complaining of classic depression, but then he flips around by his own choice. The first step of that is simple: he chooses to trust God. He does that on the basis of what he knows of God, his experiences of God. Modern secular society tries to push God out of everything, assigning materialistic causes to everything and discounting God’s hand in it all, but that is a terrible loss. Science has shown us many of the mechanisms by which God does things, but that doesn’t negate the fact that He’s behind it all. The second thing David does here is to sing. Many studies, not to mention everyday experience, have shown the huge impact music has on our emotions. Singing a dirge isn’t the best idea if you’re wanting to get out of an emotional pit! David very wisely chooses to sing to the Lord. I emphasize that because a lot of even supposedly Christian music is completely self-centered, and that’s no way to get over depression. You could say that David was practicing what the old hymn Count Your Blessings recommends. He chose to rejoice in God’s salvation and remember how good God had been to him. That’s a recipe for happiness if there ever was one!

In my youth I struggled with depression, and even seriously attempted suicide one time. Even as an adult I have thought of it a few times. However, over the years I have learned that all that stems from being self-centered. Everyone has that tendency, but that’s not an excuse to indulge it. We do experience everything from that perspective initially, but the more we get past that the more mature we become and the better able to enjoy all the blessings of God and His creation. When bad things happen there is always the temptation to say, “Why me?” We indeed need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit pointing out things of which we need to repent, but barring that, the answer is usually, because we live in a fallen world. That’s why Jesus said so bluntly, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) However, as Paul pointed out, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) When we have the eternal perspective we can understand that our troubles are no more than blips in the road, certainly not worth dwelling on. By God’s grace I have had moments in which I was more sure that God was real than that I was real. I don’t think I’m ever likely to be tempted by suicide again!

Father, thank You indeed for Your overwhelming grace. Thank You that I’ll be able to share in the online Coaching conference this morning. Help me say exactly what You want me to say and nothing else, not running overtime but blessing each of my hearers so that together we may rejoice to participate in what You are doing, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

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