7.23.2013

We must praise Him IN THE MIDST of the trials.

On Sunday our pastor preached a terrific message on the topic of Depression.  I want to share it because I know that many women struggle with depression - either with a constant overwhelming intensity, in times of trial and difficult circumstances, or even an occasional day or two of feeling low in spirit and fighting to find joy again.

Like anything else we struggle with, the Lord is our ultimate source of comfort and strength, and we must cling to Him when we can see nothing but darkness and despair.  The light does not always shine immediately or brightly, but it IS always shining because GOD is light.

Whether this speaks to you right now as you battle to keep your head above water, or you recall this later when trials wash over you, I pray it will be a source of encouragement ... and HOPE.

First, the text of the message - and then my notes, additions and thoughts all swirled into one.

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say to me,
“Where is your God?”
When I remember these things,
I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude;
I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise,
With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.
O my God,my soul is cast down within me;
Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan,
And from the heights of Hermon,
From the Hill Mizar.
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life.
I will say to God my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a breaking of my bones,
My enemies reproach me,
While they say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
Psalm 42
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Vindicate me, O God,
And plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
For You are the God of my strength; Why do You cast me off?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead meLet them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.
Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in GodFor I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
Psalm 43

The author of these Psalms is "adrift on a sea of wild emotions."

The character of depression. (what does it look like?)
crying, inner restlessness, emotional, fatigued, overwhelmed, no hope things will change, "feels like I'm drowning", "feel alone and rejected" 42:9, 43:2 (even if not true), panic

Is depression a SIN?
No.
However - it can be a result or consequence of sin - and if not handled correctly, depression can lead to sin because it is self-focused and can quickly fix our eyes on our circumstances and people rather than the Lord.  We doubt His power and strength, do not believe what He says, and do not seek HIM ... we seek other ways, other people, other solutions ... and we are to have no one, and nothing, come before Him.

The author of these Psalms longs and thirsts for God. (42:1)  He is not a careless, carnal follower of Jesus.  He talks of his desire to be with God again.  He remembers the days of sweet fellowship and worship in the temple.  He is not a despondant, hard-hearted believer.  He LOVES God.  But for whatever reason, at this specific time, he feels rejected and alone - by people, and by God.  He laments his state of being in the same breath that he says he will still praise God.

Depression does not = a weak or immature Christian.  It is the RESPONSE to the depression that reveals the true heart of the believer.

Jesus battled extreme sadness/depression in the garden of Gethsemane.  The three Gospels describe Jesus' emotion this way:  "Being in agony He prayed more earnestly" (Luke), "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow" (Matthew), "He began to be greatly distressed and troubled" (Mark).
Jesus was sad!  Overwhelmed.  Emotional.  Fatigued.  He did not want to go through the crucifixion and He asked the Father three times if He could be spared.
His depression did not define Him.
His response did.
"THY WILL be done."

Jesus understands our sadness and overwhelming emotions - because He had them!
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin.  Hebrews 4:15

** NOTE - though He was God, Jesus still asked His disciples - mere men, frail humans, born sinners - He asked them to PRAY for Him!

Depression often causes us to hide and withdraw from everyone we know.  But that is NOT the solution.  We must face it head on, talk about it, confess it, and ask for support, help, accountability, and PRAYER.  If the Son of God needed/wanted prayer in His darkest hour - why would we ever expect to escape the darkness on our own??

The causes of depression.
The absence of desired things.
The presence of undesirable things

Discouragement and despair exist because we are deprived of someone/something we want, or we are surrounded by people and circumstances we do not want. (Both are decided by God Himself! "He gives and takes away." Job)

The Cure for depression.
* Present examination
Look at the depression and ask WHY?  Is this mood necessary?  Is it valid?
"Why are you cast down oh my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?"  INVESTIGATE! Do not take the depression at face value.  Find the source(s) and examine them.

Tell yourself the TRUTH.  Do not let your emotions dictate what your mind will dwell on.  TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR MIND and tell it what it will dwell on!  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7
"Hope in God, for I will yet praise Him!" (42:5)

* Past education
"I will remember Him." (42:6)  Think on, dwell on, remember, recount - His works, His creation, His promises, and His character.

Will you remember what you LOST or will you remember GOD?

The author is looking to GOD (rather than people, absence of desires, or circumstances) and he finds his confidence - and hope in God.  And he PRAISES HIM!!!!!

Nothing in the text says the author's circumstances changed or got better.  He had to choose how
he would respond to the tidal wave crashing over him.  Would he still love, trust, and praise the God he claims to desire with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength?

The answer is YES!

He praised God IN THE MIDST of the trial.

And so must we.

Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead meLet them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.
Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise YouO God, my God.

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