By Louis Smith
Today's Scripture: Psalm 43:1-5
Central Thought: God gives us ways to cope with depression.
According to one authority, as many as 20 million Americans suffer from depression annually. It affects all kinds of people from all walks of life—children, teens, adults, professionals, housewives, and more. Each year, Americans spend $44 billion treating it. Hospitals offer treatments for clinical depression. Doctors prescribe medicines that help too. But what about the common, occasional depression that most of us experience from time to time—the kind that is usually brought on by our circumstances?
The writer of Psalm 43 experienced similar circumstances. He needed defense against wicked people and deliverance from their schemes (Psalm 43:1). He felt God was distant from him and that his circumstances oppressed him (Psalm 43:2). Most of us can identify with these feelings. Problems mount, God seems a million miles away, and we end up feeling depressed.
What did the writer do to cope with what he was feeling? He took refuge in God, even though he seemed to feel that God was a million miles away (Psalm 43:2). The Hebrew word for refuge (ESV) or stronghold (NIV) describes a fortified city or fortress. At a time when the Psalmist needed a strong sense of safety, he ran to that fortified city—the Lord—even though he could not sense His nearness. We need the same kind of faith when we're feeling low—a faith that says, 'Lord, I can't sense Your nearness or see signs of Your presence, but I still cling to You for security in this low time.”
The Psalmist sought out God's 'light” and 'truth” (Psalm 43:3, ESV) for guidance and a sense of nearness to God. Where can we find light and truth? The Bible offers both (Psalm 119:105, John 17:17). When we're feeling low, we need to continue delving into the Book. At times, it may only seem like 'words on a page,” but in time it will spread its light into our darkness and spread truth into our hearts, lives, and circumstances.
The Psalmist also coped by looking forward to better days. In Psalm 43:4, he foresaw a time when he would once again enjoy worshiping at the altar and praising the Lord. People get into real trouble with depression when they begin to feel that things will never get any better. Many suicides occur in that dismal atmosphere. Don't succumb to that kind of thinking. We need to counteract those feelings of depression by reminding ourselves that things will one day get better.
The Psalmist closed Psalm 43 by encouraging his troubled spirit (43:5): 'Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (ESV). No matter how low you feel at this moment, keep hope alive. Know that one day things will change. Your spirit will again become buoyant, and your skies will seem bright again instead of gloomy.
Devotional Prayer: Lift my sagging spirit, Lord, and keep my faith and hope alive.
Today's Bible Reading: Leviticus 20:22-22:16; Mark 9:1-29; Psalm 43:1-5; Proverbs 10:18