Lean toward God
The first verse of Psalm 130 could be the cry of one who is drowning in the agony, hopelessness, and despair of depression: “Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord.”
That cry matches what Ginger Zee confides about her struggle with depression: “Depression, for me, has been a couple of different things—but the first time I felt it, I felt helpless, hopeless, and things I had never felt before. I lost myself and my will to live.”
It also matches what Elizabeth Wurtzel writes about depression in Prozac Nation: “That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.”
“Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord.”
The depression of Psalm 130 may have come from guilt, as verses 3-4 suggest, but depression comes from many different sources, and the agony of it can be debilitating no matter what the source may be.
Clinical depression should never be taken lightly. Calling a counselor or doctor may be the essential first step to take.
Along with that, Psalm 130 offers a couple of other words of counsel:
Cry out to God.
God is a good one to cry out to because God cares immensely for you and will always draw near to you. In his book Bounce: Learning to Thrive through Loss, Tragedy, and Heartache. Aaron Fruh shares,
“When my son, Nathan, was five years old, my wife and I were drinking coffee in the living room early one morning when we heard a cry coming from his bedroom. When Sharon went into his room she screamed out to me because Nathan was having a seizure. She came running down the hall carrying the twitching and flailing body with his little brown eyes rolled back in their sockets. I ran into the kitchen to call 911, slid across the kitchen tile, and scraped my knee. The ambulance took my son to a children’s hospital, and I slept next to him in his room for the next five days while the pediatric neurologists treated him.
“When he had his seizure, Nathan was afraid because his body was doing strange things it had never done before, so he cried out for his mother and father. It was a lament, a complaint: ‘Help me! Something isn’t right! Come quick! I’m afraid!’ And what did I do as a father? I ran across the kitchen floor and skinned my knee. In the hospital I drew closer to my son in his distress. That’s what a father does because of the covenant bond he has with his child. A lament is a form of speech that releases us, even encourages us to complain about injustice and call on God to hear our cries of suffering. And what does our Father in heaven do when we raise a lament His way? He runs across the kitchen floor and skins His knee.”
Cry out to God, then lean toward Him.
In verses 5-6 the psalmist states, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”
The Hebrew word for watchman is tsaphah. Literally the word has to do with leaning forward to peer into the distance. Historically watchmen were appointed to keep vigil on the city walls throughout the night. They would lean forward at their post, peering into the darkness, watching for any sign of danger, and waiting for the sun to rise in the east. They could do nothing to hasten the rising of the sun, but they leaned forward, longing for the arrival of a new day to relieve the darkness.
This psalm invites us to be people who lean toward God in the midst of our darkness.
Better yet, may we be people who lean on God in the midst of our struggles and weakness.
Sometimes Christians are criticized for leaning on God, or for using God as a crutch. Marshall Shelley reflected upon that criticism while he was on crutches after breaking a leg in a soccer match:
“From my point of view, crutches are not for the weak. For the last month and a half, my arms and especially my underarms had gotten quite a workout. And they were feeling much stronger….
“Who are crutches for? For those who are broken, who admit something is wrong and want to get better. For people who want to continue being active—not sitting around with their feet up—but getting around, engaging in work and relationships.
“Likewise, Christianity is for broken people. But it’s definitely not for the weak or faint of heart.”
Leaning on God is not a bad thing to do. It is in leaning on God that we find healing and renewed strength.