Oct19WedDealing With Our Spiritual Depression October 19, 2016
There are many common experiences that Christians all share. Typically these experiences (like cronic pain, the struggles of parenting, the difficultly of offering forgiveness or methods of coping with the abruptness of death) become the subject of conversation as prayer requests are shared.
However, the experience of spiritual depression is one about which Christian’s rarely speak. In those moments, we cry out, "I say to the God of my life, my rock, why have you forgotten me?" (Psalm 42:9)
Therefore when it happens, believers often suffer the ‘dark night of the soul’ in agonizing isolation – easily convinced by Satan’s whispers that no one else can empathize with the strong inner thoughts of hopelessness and despair.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. The Biblical prophet Jeremiah, Teresa of Avila, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon are just a few influential believers who have felt profoundly abandoned by God in the midst of difficult circumstances.
My deepest point of despair occurred in 2007 when I was laid off of two jobs. All of my prayers were accompanied with tears of desperation because my God appeared to be silent or negligent. My wife’s deepest point of despair occurred in 2013 when our bridal business was struggling to stay afloat financially. In that season, her prayers were silenced by a fierce anxiety which consumed her body and mind. The ordinary actions of eating, sleeping, and praying became enormous battlefields.
Truthfully, most, if not all of us, will likely experience a season of life like this. When it happens, our mind and spirit enter a cycle of inner turmoil. As Christians, we believe that the Holy Spirit lives within us and that Jesus, our Savior, can redeem people from anything. Therefore, we secretly hope that we are immune from depression or can simply ‘snap out of it’ when our soul is downcast. But when that season comes..and lingers...we often feel ashamed, hypocritical, or weak.
It is for this reason why we need to be familiar with Psalm 42!
This incredible psalm describes a man who is struggling with spiritual depression and cannot simply ‘snap out of it.’ Through the psalmist, the Holy Spirit offers several tools which can navigate believers through these seasons of life.
The Spirit reminds him of God’s life-giving redemption (verses 5, 11).
He looks for evidence of God’s love during the day, worships the Lord during the agonizing sleepless nights (verse 8) and remembers the joyous gift of corporate worship (verse 4).
But most importantly of all, he remembers that God is ultimately the one in control even if waves are crashing all around us (verse 7). He exalts God’s sovereignty in the midst of the storm.
For those of you who were in worship on Sunday, this is merely a recap. However, many of our loved ones who are currently in a place of despair were likely not at worship this week. They may need you to offer them Biblical, loving support. Psalm 42 is a great place to start.
If you currently are in a place of despair and you feel like you are drowning, I encourage you to draw near to the Lord through this psalm. There is support from the Lord and among the communion of saints if we are willing to seek it out. Spiritual depression is real – but so is the power of the Lord to lead us to a place where we joyfully proclaim, “He is my salvation and my God” (Psalm 42:11b).