Coping With Spiritual Depression (Part Three)
by Dennis Michelson
No Problem Man!
In the first two messages we saw that there will always be spiritual depression apart from God. This depression is characterized as a thirst in 42:1 and such a thirst can only be satisfied in the Lord.
In addition, spiritual depression will result in tears (42:3)and these tears are an indicator of the psalmist's deep yearning for that place of serenity and peace with his God. David then recounted the battle he had with his thoughts in 42:4 and reminded us of keeping the heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.
All of this will result in an earnest deliberation with God. If we take our burdens to anyone less than the Lord then we will continue on in the course of spiritual depression.
4. There Will Be Deliberation With God (42:6-7)
Verses six and seven represent the earnest cry of the psalmist's heart put forth in very descriptive terms. In Hebrew poetry, the sea is often depicted as a place of chaos and turmoil. This is similar to the predicament of Jonah (Jonah 2:3-4). The psalmist is now cast into the depths of despair.
In very direct language the writer says "Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me." One wave crashing right after another. This is the way David describes his dilemma.
The waves follow the waves as if called by one another. Just like Job, one trial follows right on the heels of another. The problems seem to have no end. There is one very important observation to be made here. Notice the psalmist says "thy waterspouts", "thy waves", "thy billows".
There are no abstract or random troubles. The troubled writer knows that there are no maverick molecules in God's universe. Indeed the waves roll over and over the believer but all are under the control of the sovereign hand of God. This leads the psalmist to state plainly his conviction.
5. The Psalmist States His Conviction (42:8)
God will not forsake him. God will not forget him. There now comes forth from the lips of the beleaguered believer a hymn of praise and confidence toward God. God will not only assist him in his hour of need but "the Lord will command His lovingkindness."
The King James translators aptly supplied the word "Yet" at the head of verse eight, although there is no corresponding term in the Hebrew. This will be no fictional melodramatic rescue opera with a contrived happy ending.
There is no escape from reality by the introduction of deus ex machina as in a Wagnerian opera. The hope of providential intervention is not unlikely and unexpected. The psalmist is fully throughout that God will be his aid.
This is the poetic, Old Testament analogue of the New Testament dictum -- "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (I Corinthians 10:13)
David knew by faith that God would command the escape route to open at the appointed time and the appointed place. The conviction of the psalmist was firm and unmistakable; God would not, yes, God could not fail him in his time of extreme need. However, the conviction of faith could not completely quell the reality of feelings, doubts and even questions.
6. The Psalmist Asks His Questions (42:9)
"Why hast thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?" David did not despair because he knew, as stated in verse eight, that God would command the end to his depressing circumstances.
But while David expressed his confidence, he could not help but ask some understandable questions. He did not know when God would come to his assistance, but as with us today, between the when and the then, there are often some whys.
Is it wrong to ask God why? If the Psalms are any indication, then the answer must be a resounding no. Time and time again, throughout the Psalms, there is a repeated chorus of why? why? why? Philip Yancy, in his excellent book entitled "Disappointment With God" cites two reasons as to why God does not always explain things to His creatures:
- Perhaps God keeps us ignorant because enlightenment might not help us.
- Perhaps God keeps us ignorant because we are incapable of comprehending the answer.
Let us remember that Job did not receive an answer to his whys, but rather, Job received a person -- God Himself. The writer will next move to one instance when asking questions during times of adversity may be a fitting spiritual exercise. These are questions which arise out of concern for God's honor and not one's personal comfort.