“My soul is cast down within me” (ESV), sounds so poetic. “I am deeply depressed” (CSB), seems so much more connective. To speak of having a cast down soul sounds somewhat dramatic (cue the back of the hand to the forehead). To confessing to being deeply depressed seems more pragmatic (think unable to get out of bed in the morning).
I’m hovering over Psalm 42 this morning, a song written and composed by the sons of Korah. A song about dealing with depression.
It starts off familiar enough.
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so I long for you, God.
(Psalm 42:1 CSB)
Singing about a deer that panteth for water back in the mid-80’s evokes pleasant memories. One of the praise choruses (as we called them) that warmed the heart, closed the eyes, and turned the face toward heaven. Rarely, if ever, do I recall singing the song as a response to being depressed. But according to the sons of Korah, it’s a salve appropriately applied in depths of sorrow.
When tears have been your food day and night (v.3); when memories of happier times with God’s people break open your heart (v.4); when the voices of your enemies are oppressively amplified (v.10); when the only conclusion your dejected soul can muster is that God, my rock has forgotten me (v.9); then is the time for faith to offset the sense of failure that sweeps over you as “breakers” and “billows” in a deep, deep sea (v.7).
Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him,
my Savior and my God.
(Psalm 42:5b and 11b CSB)
Twice this is the songwriters’ command to the dejected soul. Twice this is wielded as the weapon of what you know to be true against the debilitating weariness of what you feel to be true. I will still praise Him, for He is a saving God. He is a delivering God. He is an unchanging, promise-keeping, able to rescue God. Thus, I will hope in God. Still, I will praise Him.
Arid seasons have a way of creating a thirst for God. Tears day and night have a way of opening up a whole new appreciation for God’s 24/7 provision.
The Lord will send His faithful love by day;
His song will be with me in the night—
a prayer to the God of my life.
(Psalm 42:8 CSB)
By day, awareness of mercies that are new every morning. At night, the assurance of His goodness from the songs that run through your head after the lights are out. This, available through faith’s determination, is the fruit of communion amidst confusion. It’s the evidence that God has not forgotten me but is, in fact, the God of my life. All of my life — the seasons of soaring and the seasons of sorrow.
By His grace. For His glory.
To the believer, the worldly term “rock-bottom” has a much different and comforting meaning.
No matter my circumstance or fleeting feelings, He is my Rock, and I stand there