Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42:5)
David wrote this psalm when he was on the run from his enemies and his circumstances looked bleak. His enemies despised God and oppressed God’s people—including David, who could not participate in corporate worship at the time.
Can I get a witness? We are all experiencing this gloomy feeling of oppression and isolation to a certain extent at present. But let us follow David’s example: Instead of being crushed under the weight of his circumstances, David rose above them by shifting his focus back to God.
David could have been in a state of deep despair and depression if he had let the circumstances he was facing get the best of him. But he did not. He started talking to himself about his God. It seems to me that in his self-talk, David’s faith was confronting David’s fears. This attitude of worship is the Almighty Antidepressant, and when we apply this kind of self-talk ourselves, our faith will always win out over fear.
Notice that David’s words were directed to himself, not toward his circumstances. David’s hope was the antidote for his hurts. Charles Spurgeon is widely known as “the prince of preachers” for his beautifully articulate and inspiring expositions of the Word of God. What is less known about him is that this great man of God struggled with deep, almost debilitating depression for much of his life. Spurgeon wrote, “Every man is two men; we are duplicates; and it is well sometimes to hold a dialogue with one’s own self. ‘Why are you downcast, O my soul?’ I always notice that as long as I can argue with myself about my depression, I can get out of them. But when both the men within me go down at once, it is a downfall indeed.”
David clearly understood the need to “hold a dialogue with one’s own self” during times of difficulty and discouragement. And when David reminded himself to “Put your hope in God,” he was not using the word hope as the world does. David’s hope was not some nebulous wishful thinking, as in “I hope it doesn’t rain on the Fourth of July.” Biblical hope is the confident assurance of a promised future.
I have said here before that we can go weeks without food, days without water, and minutes without air, but we cannot go one moment without hope. David knew that God is faithful, and that to hope in God is to rest in the expectation that God will always cause everything—even the bad and difficult things in life—to work together for the good of those who love God. That is the truth we all must cling to, especially during distressing seasons like this global pandemic. If you find yourself feeling a bit downcast or disturbed during this time of social distancing, remember to look up and put your hope in God. He will never let you down, and you will yet praise your Savior and your God. That is the Almighty Antidepressant, and this hope is, as the author of Hebrews wrote, “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).
You are in my prayers and in my heart.
Purpose and Passion,