Why Are You Depressed, My Soul?

Depression can cripple the emotions, sometimes so severely that everyday functioning becomes overwhelming. In the worst cases, a Christian suffering from depression could require Biblical Counseling with an ACBC certified counselor. We mustn’t minimize the fact that circumstances can often engender feelings of hopelessness.

In most situations, however, the average Christian has the resources to combat depression in Scripture and fellowship with other believers. She can receive Biblical counseling by reading the Word and talking with mature sisters who know how to correctly apply the Word. Scripture provides a treasure trove of passages to assist us in working through a wide range of emotional problems, but depression is especially prevalent due to the many ramifications of Covid as well as the approaching holidays. With those factors in mind, it seems appropriate to focus on how the Bible addresses this emotional battle.

To demonstrate how you can utilize the Bible during times of depression, let’s look at Psalm 42. (Click this link to read the entire psalm.)

To give this psalm some historical context, it helps to understand the reason for David’s depression when he wrote it. 2 Samuel 13-19 recounts Absolom’s horrible progression into bitterness — a bitterness that resulted in vindictive hatred of David. To make matters worse, David genuinely loved Absolom, but Absolom’s sin made it politically expedient to cut off face-to-face contact. David’s refusal to see his son enraged the young man to such a degree that he staged a coup against his father. Absolom wanted his father’s throne badly enough to force David out of Jerusalem and into exile. During this exile, David wrote Psalm 42 as a way of working through his depression.

He opens his psalm by lamenting over his feelings of alienation from God (verses 1-4). Far from the idyllic image that the popular praise song based on verse 1 portrays, David alludes to a desperate animal barely clinging to life. The panting deer he pictures is close to death, with water being its only hope of survival. This image illustrates the extremity of David’s depression, as he yearns to feel God’s presence. He believes the Lord has abandoned him. Furthermore, he misses leading his people into joyful worship. Everything he holds dear has been ripped out of his life, leaving him despondent and panic stricken.

Immediately (verses 5-8), David realizes that his soul needn’t despair. While continuing to acknowledge the severity of his situation, he almost scolds himself for failing to hope in God. In fact, he asks himself to remember God in the very midst of his suffering. Yes, his troubles cascade over him like gigantic waterfalls, causing him to feel as if he’s drowning. His path appears dark and hopeless. But he reminds himself to hope in God.

From that point, he emerges from his depression (verses 9-11). Now his enemies taunt him, accusing God of abandoning him, but David resolves to hope in God and even praise Him. Depression has given way to worship as David knows that the Lord is his hope.

We mustn’t view this psalm as an allegory, mind you. None of us is David, and none of us has an angry son trying to depose us. Yet each of us can learn from David’s example when we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances. Although our troubles seem to drown us, making it nearly impossible to perceive God’s presence, we can remind ourselves that He really is our hope. As we praise Him, our circumstances may not change, but our depression will yield to faith.

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2 thoughts on “Why Are You Depressed, My Soul?

  1. Every Christian should turn to God’s Word when depressed as you have suggested, DebbieLynne. At the same time, there are times when medications can help. My brother has schizophrenia and if he didn’t get his monthly shot he wouldn’t even know where he was. I struggled with anxiety and depression for years and took meds off and on. When I was 50 I finally decided that I needed medication regularly. Since then, life has been so much easier and I’m really not on that much medicine. I thank God for the medicines.
    After schizophrenia hit my brother in his early 20s’ I did a bit of research and found that relatives in previous generations had been placed in mental illness facilities. My great grandmother was sent to one and never got out. Thankfully, my brother does pretty well when he is on his medication. He carries a Bible everywhere and I am thankful for that.
    I got sick of trying to tough it out and thinking my weak faith might be the issue. I now believe that I was wrong and that I should have seriously considered medicine earlier.

    Liked by 2 people

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