The Prayer of a Depressed Saint Part 1 of 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
April 25, 2006
Title: The Prayer of a Depressed Saint
Scripture Reading: Psalm 13:1-6
The Psalms gives us a record of the life of God's people, Israel. It tells us of their dealings with our heavenly Father and with other nations. In the Psalms, we find great worship experiences in which praise is offered to God. But we also find sorrow and grief. We find puzzling ques¬tions and expressions of faith. But we also find expressions of despair. Psalm 13, for instance, presents the prayer of a man in deep depression. I’ll bet that most, if not all of us are depressed from time-to-time. Today, we know that depression may be the result of many different fac¬tors.
Some people have a tendency toward depression because of heredity factors. For example, my mother fought depression late in life, especially after my father died. When a spouse dies many people go through a period of depression. Usually, a person will come out of it, but sometimes they don’t.
I believe I may have inherited at least the tendency toward depression from my mother. Today, my son, Mike, and my daughter Mary, take medication to ward off depression. Where did they get the depression? From me.
People also experience deep depression because of a chemical imbalance. That’s my problem. I take a medication called Wellbutrin, and it helps a lot. My depression began when we moved to South Carolina, and I have figured out that it was caused by a couple of things. First, my son refused to talk to me and our relationship ceased to exist for almost 5 years. And second, Sierra and I didn’t have any medical assurance; we were having a hard time getting approval for disability, and I wasn’t sure that my insurance company would keep paying me.
Now, let me brag a little on the Lord. He straightened it all out; I am talking with my son Michael again. Sierra and I both have insurance. I am still receiving a monthly check from the insurance company. And I am receiving disability. It is true, if you love and serve Jesus, God will bless you.
There’s another possible source for depression, and that’s mistreatment by someone near and dear. Dr. Nicholi, who is a psychiatrist from Harvard, remarked that current studies reveal that American parents spend less time with their children than do parents in almost any other country. It’s easy to see why that’s true.
In most American homes both parents work. We have a nation of latch-key kids, because they get home from school before their parents get home from work. Add to that, that there is only one parent in many homes.
Moreover, Americans are so busy with work, hobbies, sports, and entertainment that they spend very little time with their children. They may say, “I make sure I spend QUALITY time with my kids.” But that’s not enough, children need to be with their parents more than they need things. Children want all the time you can give them. When that doesn’t happen that’s abuse that leads to a depressed child. James Dobson said, “Nothing can replace the precious commodity of time spent with your children.”
We may also experience depression because of a negative way of thinking. Negative thinking says, “The glass is half empty;” whereas positive thinking says, “The glass is half full.” You’ve probably heard that old saying before. What it means is that it makes a big difference how you look at things. Anyone that constantly thinks in negative terms develops a “woe is me” attitude.
Depression is likely to enter the life of those who think negatively. Did you know that studies have shown that at any given moment, up to 5 percent of the United States population is depressed? That is a lot of people and every one of them find it hard to get along in the world, because they always feel down in the dumps.
There’s another cause for depression. It’s often the result of weariness and physical collapse. I should know all about this one, since it recently happened to me. I had to give up some of my duties at church, and the devotions I was doing, before I began to feel better. I had taken on too much and it finally caught up with me. I was tired all the time, so tired that I began to think that I could not go on unless something changed. Moreover, my depression was worse than ever. I feel much better now that I have reduced my responsibilities; but the depression is still there, and I have to face it every day.
We’re not done yet, because there are some other causes for depression.
Some experience deep depression because of their utter helplessness. Depression often accompanies illness.
Others experience depression as death approaches. I heard a cute story about a cat that died. A mother tried to soften the blow of their family cat’s death by telling her young daughter, “Tabby is in heaven now.” The little girl gave her mother a strange look then asked, “Why would God want a dead cat?”
The death of a loved one and our own approaching death is depressing for many, but for the Christian, death is only a door that leads to heaven and eternity.
I think that all of us experience some depression because of impatience. Waiting in the check-out line at the grocery store, standing in line at the driver’s license bureau, doctor’s waiting rooms, and long lines of slow-moving traffic are only a few of the daily annoyances that cause feelings of impatience, which often triggers our depression.
Not only is depression a problem with many Americans, it’s now affecting animals as well. On January 5, 1999, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first antidepressant for dogs. The drug, Clomicalm, is designed specifically for dogs to help them deal with separation anxiety. Of the fifty-five million dogs in the United States, about 10 percent of them have this problem to some degree. This drug is supposed to help calm dogs when they are left to themselves, by eliminating symptoms such as excessive barking, destructive chewing, clawing, and uncontrollable urination. Specialists say dogs have a strong need to be around other animals or people, and if they are left too long by themselves they begin to engage in destructive behavior. Clomicalm, at about $1 per pill, is being billed as a drug that will help dogs cope with the anxiety that can accompany aloneness. Don’t you agree that when they start approving antidepressants for dogs it’s time to reevaluate how the researchers are spending their time?
The Lord’s discipline, although it is always deserved, is also a cause for depression. Maybe this was the reason David was depressed and why he wrote this psalm.
There are only six verses. Listen closely as I read it to you—Psalm 13.
1 How much longer will you forget me, Lord? For ever? How much longer will you hide yourself from me?
2 How long must I endure trouble? How long will sorrow fill my heart day and night? How long will my enemies triumph over me?
3 Look at me, O Lord my God, and answer me. Restore my strength; don’t let me die.
4 Don’t let my enemies say, “We have defeated him.” Don’t let them gloat over my downfall.
5 I rely on your constant love; I will be glad, because you will rescue me.
6 I will sing to you, O Lord, because you have been good to me.
It’s clear that this poem was a prayer of David written during a time of deep depression.
The poem begins with David asking the Lord a question, “How much longer will you forget me, Lord?” What we have here is a prayer of David during a time when he was experiencing deep depression due to adverse circumstances. Four times David asked, “How long?” He had prayed, but David acknowledged that God had hidden Himself and He didn’t answer.
David had examined his heart and knew of no reason why God should abandon him. “Adverse circumstances” doesn’t say enough about his predicament. He was being pursued aggressively by the enemy (probably Saul), and David wondered what was delaying the chariot of God. Would help never come to free him from the terrible burdens that were crushing him? He felt as if God had forgotten him.
Have you ever prayed to God when it seemed as if He had forgotten you?
Does God really forget His children? The answer, of course, is NO! Although God cannot forget His own, frequently we feel as though we have been forgotten by Him.
The cause of David’s depression was three-fold. First, he considered himself cut off from the Lord’s favor. Second, Saul was relentless in his search for David and he wanted to see him dead. And third, he suffered the constant humiliation of being on the losing side.
God must take notice of David’s plight and send help quickly, in order to avert two disasters. The first would be David’s death and the second would be the jubilant boasting of his enemy. Unless the Lord acted quickly to restore the sparkle to David’s eyes, they would soon be closed forever in death. Unless Jehovah turned the tide, the enemies would soon be boasting that they had won, and that David was thoroughly trounced.
David’s depression was made worse by the length of the suffering he was experiencing. Some say that Saul persecuted him for nine years and there was no sign that it would ever end. The longer God waited, the more the enemy would succeed. David was so depressed that he experienced sorrow in his heart throughout the day. It never let up and so he began to question God. Why did the Lord allow it, and why did he suffer so greatly and his enemies prosper at the same time?