Hope for the downcast
“In Australia, it's estimated that 45 per cent of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety.” (https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts) The chances are if you have not suffered from depression or anxiety you know someone who is. Those who do not have depression or anxiety will have times of sadness and sorrow. So how does the godly person respond to sadness, sorrow and depression?
It may be a relief to know that the Christian life is not a happy one all the time. Jesus was “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.” (Isa. 53:3). At different times Jeremiah, Job and Jonah all wished they were not alive (Jer 15:10; Job 3:11; Jonah 4:8). The writer of Psalms 42 and 43 asks himself three times “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” (Ps. 42:5, 11; 43:5) He sought to find joy and delight in God’s presence, he wanted to worship him with others at the temple, but his joy didn’t come (at least not within the words of the Psalm.) God didn’t give him a quick fix for sadness.
But during his sorrow the psalm writer did two helpful things. First, he reminded himself of God’s constant goodness: “I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God. … By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me … I say to God my Rock, (Ps. 42:5 –6, 8, 9). He didn’t feel good, he felt forgotten by God, he may have had trouble sleeping, but he preached to himself that God is with him. He didn’t let his feeling control him but he remembered God’s Word and God’s truth. The second thing he did was to pray to God. “Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.” (43:3). Will God bring relief from depression immediately? That has not been the experience of many godly saints, but put your hope in God—he will bring relief.