Dealing with Depression

An exposition of Psalm 42:1-11. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on June 27, 2010.

It just didn’t make sense.  He had just experienced a great victory.  But instead of celebrating, he was pouting.  Instead of rejoicing, he wanted to be left alone.  In fact he just wanted to die.  Now that is hard to accept given the experience Elijah had on Mount Carmel.  You will remember his challenge to the priest of Baal.  You remember that after hours of pleading and extreme measures on their part – Baal never answered.  Elijah in confidence prayed a very simple prayer and the fire of God fell.  It was impressive.  Elijah was indeed the prophet of the living God.  But on the heels of that – Elijah became severely depressed.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon has been called “The Prince of Preachers.”  The great Baptist preacher of the 19th century was known around the world.  He spoke to thousands every week from the pulpit of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.  His sermons were reprinted each week in newspapers throughout Britain, Europe and the United States.  He was, without a doubt, one of the most respected men of his day.  Yet he wrote out his resignation almost every week and suffered great bouts of depression.

I read a report back in the mid eighties that said every other hospital bed was occupied by a “mental patient.”  That meant a person whose condition was due to emotional issues.  Record numbers of people are on medication and/or receiving treatment for depression.  It is a major concern.  Depression is a genuine condition.  Often people do need medication because of a chemical imbalance and need counseling due to major traumatic events they have gone through.  That is not and indication of weakness on their part.  It is also true that all of us struggle with depression to some degree.  How do we fight it?  Can we win the battle?  That is the focus of our text found in Psalm 42.

Text: Psalm 42:1-11

This is the first psalm of book 2 (42-72).
We are told this is a psalm by the son’s of Korah.
The Korahites were Levites who performed temple music.

It is interesting to note that during the wilderness wanderings it was Korah who led a rebellion of 250 community leaders and their families (Numbers 16, Jude 11).
The sons of Korah were spared and were later dedicated to the glory of God.

James Boice entitles his study of this Psalm, “An Upward Look by a Downcast Soul.”  I think it is important to note from the outset that depression is a problem even among the people of God.  This is vital to note given the attitudes of many today who assume faith in Christ eliminates problems.  This is not a new problem.  Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, published a book in 1965 entitled Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, which remains one of his most widely circulated works.

Do you ever get depressed?  Are you ever down in the dumps?  If you say that you never sing the blues, I’ve just got one question for you, “What planet are you living on?”  You cannot travel this road of tears and not suffer occasional bouts of depression.  If you’ve lived any time at all you’ve experienced what some of the puritan writers called “the dark night of the soul.”

As we explore Psalm 42 I think we will discover:

Thesis: The righteous fight through depression by focusing on God’s goodness and grace.

Depression is not the kind of thing you can stop.
It is going to happen.
When life “dumps” on you – you’re going to get depressed.
When trauma comes, depression is sure to follow.

While it will not be eliminated down here – you can, by God’s grace overcome.  And we find some insight in this Psalm.  This is one of the most recognized Psalms because of the opening verses.

There are two truths I want you to take hold of this evening.

  1. Even the righteous are prone to periods of doubt and depression.
  2. The righteous find deliverance in facing depression head on.

Depression is going to come.  But you don’t have to live under it.  You, by the grace of God can overcome it.  How?  Recognize that it is part of life and then face it head on.  Fight through your depression and look to God’s goodness and grace.

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