Finding Hope even in the Hardest Times
When I became a Christian many years ago, many Christian friends told me how much they liked the psalms. I didn’t. I looked upon David as a whiny wimp, continually complaining about how bad things were and about how sad he was. I believed Christians should be victorious and full of Godly confidence.
As the years have passed, I discover the problem is not with David but with me. The problem is that David was honest and I am not. David was courageous enough to deal genuinely with the things he was feeling, whereas I have consistently hidden from my feelings of sorrow, fear, and depression.
Every year 16 million Americans suffer from serious depression. One in ten Americans struggle with depression. This tells me that it would be wise to pay attention to how David handles feelings of depression.
Though Psalm 42 is not identified as a psalm of David, many scholars believe David wrote the psalm. Though the psalm is identified as “A Maskil of the Sons of Korah,” scholars believe this to mean not that it was written by them but that it is written for them for use in worship.
Psalm 42 reveals five keys for handling depression:
#1: Face your sorrow.
In verses 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, and 11, the writer of the psalm speaks of crying day and night, enduring the heckling of others, being downcast and disturbed, feeling forgotten by God being oppressed by his enemies, and hurting down to his bones. David did not put on a mask and pretend everything was fine. He did not hide from his pain. He faced it genuinely. So long as we cover up our sorrows, they cannot be dealt with effectively. David demonstrates that facing our sorrows is a vital part of being able to get through our sorrows
#2: Look for hope in the person of God.
Though the circumstances that surrounded the psalmist may have been horrible, he focused his attention on the person (or the character) of God. In verse 8 he recalled that God directs His love toward us. In verse 9 he takes to heart that God is his Rock, a firm foundation when everything else might be slipping away. In verses 5 & 11 he considers that God is his Savior, the One who will rescue him and hold him securely even amidst the tumult of adversaries and adversities.
#3: Look for hope in the presence of God.
In tough times, we need more than just the knowledge of God’s good character; we need the assurance of God’s closeness to us. The psalm begins with this longing: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Herein is our deepest longing, our deepest need, and our greatest hope: to experience the closeness of God.
#4: Look for hope in the praise of God.
In verses 5 & 11, David stresses, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Praise is the deliberate act of remembering and declaring the goodness of God. It is in the process of doing this that our hearts begin to settle into the truth that God’s goodness withstands all of our sorrows!
#5: Look for hope in the people of God.
In verse 4 the psalmist remembers the joy he had in the company of God’s people. God made us with a need for one another. Isolation increases our sorrow. In friendships and in fellowship we find the care and encouragement and comfort we need.