Dear Hope Family,
This Sunday we encounter Psalm 42 and the psalmist’s best attempt to live with longings in a world that seems incapable of bringing the fulfillment he was designed for. The particular occasion for him to put pen to paper and give voice to his sad soul is his exile from the people of God, the corporate worship of the living God in the temple in Jerusalem, and the felt presence of the LORD. His soul is in turmoil. He is downcast and dispirited. In our day and age, we might diagnose this poor person with depression.
Anxiety and depression, fear and vulnerability, seem to characterize this generation. No one is immune. Folks are at loose ends, seeking stasis, logging hours with counselors, and hoping to make it through another day. How wonderful it is to find in the very word of God a model for what to do with our depression! More wonderful still, though, is the fact that God does not tell us to push the pause button on our sadness so that we can get on the business of Christian worship and discipleship; rather, he invites us to worship him in our sadness, even worship him with our sadness. The Psalms in general and Psalm 42 in particular show us one way of praying our sadness – entrusting our downcast soul into his understanding and capable hands.
However, I need to be clear that Psalm 42 does not give the last word on depression. It is too complex to square away with a passage of Scripture. It is not a one-size-fits-all monolith. The scope of this psalm is not clinical depression requiring the attention and care of a medical professional and wise counselor. It is nottemperamental depression: the Eeyore melancholy disposition that some of us are born with. It is more pointedly spiritual depression – the experience of feeling estranged from God and numb to his grace in our lives.
If you are one who suffers from chronic depression or are mired in season of melancholy, please know that there are folks at Hope who have walked and are walking the same roads and make excellent confidants and traveling companions. Also, please know that there are helpful resources I can point you to for taking aim at your own disquieted mind or that of someone you love. One of the most accessible and practical books I can recommend along these lines is Zack Eswine’s Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression. I am also attaching an illuminating article that helps get to the roots of depression.
I am excited to gather with you all this Lord’s Day and learn how to entrust our depression to the God who has compassion upon us and tenderly, powerfully works on our behalf.
Grace and peace,