Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Journey of Psalm 13

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will  You hide Your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
Light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him,"
Lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in Your steadfast love;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
I think I've had four friends discuss depression these last two weeks. And I battle it occasionally myself.
Anger over life's circumstances leads to depression.
Guilt over life's circumstances leads to depression.
Fear over life's circumstances leads to depression.
In short, sin leads to depression.
Oh sure, our hormones or our diet or our health can make us more susceptible to anger, guilt, and fear.
But that's just another way of saying that our hormones, our diet, or our health make us more susceptible to sin...
Because depression is nothing more than the failure to trust in the goodness and the sovereignty of God.

So we throw diet or exercise or medication at it.
But we are rarely honest enough to get to the source.
The sin.

I've been studying the Psalms with the kids this year.
There's something brutally honest,
and gut-wrenching,
and raw
about the psalms.
They are the heart-cry of sheep in trouble.
Sheep who have wandered into toxic weeds
or who hear the howl of wolves in the pasture.
Psalms are the plea of the sheep who recognizes his need for his Shepherd.
And I am amazed by how many psalms start with hopelessness--but end with hope.

It is diametrically opposed to this beast called depression.
It is the antithesis.
It is the solution.

And where, dear sheep, do we find this hope?
In our salvation.
Consider the journey of the sheep in Psalm 13 with me.
He is depressed
Because he thinks he is forgotten by God...
"Will You forget me forever?"
Or he thinks he must fix himself...
"How long must I take counsel in my soul?"
Or he thinks he is overtaken by an all-powerful enemy.
"How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?"

But walk with this depressed sheep.
Where does he turn?
To the Shepherd.

"Consider and answer me, O Lord my God.
Light up my eyes..."

And the faithful Shepherd does just that.
Continue as the sheep discovers...

"My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation..."

Isn't it interesting that the Psalm says Your salvation?
Not my salvation.
When we are depressed, we need to remind ourselves that salvation belongs to the Lord.
Not to us.
When we treat depression like a cause, rather than an effect, we miss the fight entirely.
But the sheep discovers that depression is the symptom of sin, and the only answer for sin is Salvation.
We do battle with depression by preaching the Gospel to ourselves.
That is the journey of Psalm 13.

When we start in a place of hopelessness,
we must make sure to end at the Gospel.
We hunker down in the shadow of the Cross.
We declare to ourselves and to the Lord,
I am a great sinner; Christ is a great Savior.*
And then we rejoice in His finished work and the emptied tomb and our eternity secured by Him.
That's when our hearts are overtaken by the potent light of God's salvation that pierces our darkness.

As I write this, Mr. Obama has just been elected to a second term.
And the people of God are struggling with depression.
Dear sheep, our destiny is not determined by the next four years.
It is determined by the sovereign Lord.
The sovereign Lord who uses nations to write history is the same sovereign Lord who hold you and hides you in the shadow of His wings,
the same Sovereign Lord who made you right with Him.
Understand that, and your depression will be undone.

Then you can sing with the sheep of Psalm 13:
"He has dealt bountifully with me."

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