“I don’t want anyone to know I am depressed,” she pleaded with me, “what would people think? How can I be a Christian and be depressed? I know God is good … why can’t I snap out of this?”
I wish I could tell you that this was a one-time conversation, but it’s not. I hear it almost weekly and it breaks my heart.
Because it’s fraught with lies. A trap designed to keep a brother or sister in the dark, alone and ashamed. Our God of Light never intended this, and depression is part of being a believer.
Let’s look at Psalm 130. Psalm 130 is part of the Psalms of Ascent; the songs the pilgrims would sing as they journeyed to Jerusalem for worship. Written in triads, the Psalms of Ascent begin in 120 with the psalmist in the deepest darkest despair who can barely look to his Lord and end in Psalm 134 with restored joy that comes from communing with God in the assembly of believers.
The journey through the Psalms of Ascent cover the life of the pilgrim between his darkest despair and being restored with joy. Psalm 129 speaks of the psalmist’s torment by wicked men who torture God’s people. Let’s look at how the psalmist deals with his pain.
Song of the Ascents
1 Out of the depths, I cry to You, O Lord!
2 O Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive to
the voice of my pleas for mercy!
3 If You, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with You, there is forgiveness,
That You may be feared.
5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His Word, I hope.
6 My soul waits for the Lord,
More than dawn-watchers for the morning,
More than dawn-watchers for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord, there is steadfast love,
And with Him, there is
8 And He will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.
Note how the psalmist feels here – in the depths of a watery chaotic despair. Isn’t that the feeling of depression? Submerged in confusion that hurts, drowning in discord, every breath consumed in lungs already brimming with anguish. Depression is like this, isn’t it? Grey days slam into one another and doubt besets us.
Is this it? Will this pain every stop? Am I doomed? Would everyone else be better off without me?
(If you feel this way, just know the answers are: no, yes, no, NO!) Scripture tells us that there is a time to weep as well as laugh (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
The psalmist shrieks out from these shadows to his God. Although nothing makes sense right now, he reminds himself of what he knows of his God. This is a God who hears the cries of His children (Read Psalm 86:1-7 to experience this more fully) no matter where they are (Psalm 139:7-12).
God hears you in your pain. He is not disappointed nor put off by it. Psalm 88 tells us of a psalmist’s overwhelming agony as he cries out. Allow your Lord to walk with you through this season, turn to Him, not away from Him.
Sometimes, though, we are afraid to call out because we suffer from shame. Maybe we have sinned and are like Adam and Eve and think we need to hide from God. We know we have done wrong, we know we deserve His wrath, we know we just can’t measure up. Maybe we have hurt someone else. Or maybe our depression comes because someone has sinned against us and we wonder how we will recover from the wounds. Verses 3-4 tells us that the psalmist knows about this, but also reminds himself (and the reader) that there IS forgiveness with this amazing God! The psalmist knows that justice and righteousness are the foundation of His throne (Psalm 89 & 97) where He extends His covenantal love to His people.
What a truth to cling to when we doubt that He might not love us anymore, or that we have done something too terrible this time (Read Romans 8 to dispel this lie from the pit of hell!), or that we are just too needy. On this side of the cross, sin is paid for. We confess our sins to remind ourselves of His forgiveness, and the power of His forgiveness allows us to extend that forgiveness to others.
Depression doesn’t dispel easily. Although we look to His Word, it isn’t an easy fix. We wait, along with the psalmist for the light to restore hope in us. But it doesn’t mean that we aren’t spiritual or that we are failing. The psalmist waits, and we find that there are others in the Bible that we wait with – Elijah (1 Kings 19), David (Psalm 6 and others) and Paul (2 Corinthians 1:8-11).
The end of Psalm 130 is an encouragement from the psalmist to hope in the God of Israel. He is the God of hope, and it is to Him that we must turn to in these dark seasons. When we realize that our suffering is for eternal purposes, we must trust Him to guide us through it (1 Peter 1:6-9).
Please, if you find yourself in this dark despair, reach out to a brother or sister who will remind of the hope that seems so elusive at this time! You are dearly loved by a holy God and it is not His intention that you walk alone. You can also contact Elizabeth – she will pray with you and walk with you through this.