In Times Of Trouble
- I want to take a different approach today.
- Oftentimes I think Christians are mislead to believe that if they are truly children of Christ then everything should be okay. What I mean is that we are taught not to show any signs of emotional failure.
- In particular, for those who battle depression. We are told "oh, just trust in God". "You just need to have more faith", "Rejoice in the Lord, always!". While these are Scriptural sayings, they don't always help the person battling with depression.
- When someone who is down and out hears this the normal response is to fake a smile and press on, never showing the emotional wreck that is on the horizon. That's not healthy and that's not Scriptural.
- I think all of us here have felt the sting of depression. The upset of setbacks, grief of loss, the effects of stress.
- If you have or feel that today, I want you to know you are not alone. In fact the company of the depressed is quite a noble group. It includes you, but like I said, your not alone.
- Job Job 7:6,7 "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and come to an end without hope. Remember that my life is but a breath; my eye will not again see good.
- Moses Deut. 1:12 "How can I alone bear the load and burden of you and your strife?
- Elijah 1 Kings 19:4, Elijah cried out to God to take his life.
- David Ps. 32:3 "when I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away, through my groaning all day long."
- Jonah Jonah 4:3 "Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life."
- Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations, known as the "weeping prophet"
- Nehemiah, Ezekiel, Peter, Paul, etc.
- So you see you are not alone, and we all find ourselves in the pit, today, let's not run from it, instead let's see how the Bible says to deal with it. Because if God is closer than we think, He is even there in the pit.
- Let's look at Psalm 77 for a pattern to follow to regain emotional equlibrium when life gets you down.
Send An SOS to God (vv. 1-3, 7-9)
- Listen to that hopelessness.
- The word picture is one of extreme desperation.
- The Hebrew word in v. 2 , tsara, means distress as if all the walls are closing in and you have nowhere to turn.
- Notice Asaph says "my soul refused to be comforted". This means he has tried all the means he can think of and nothing is helping.
- But notice the distinction with Asaph here. First of all, he is brutally honest. He doesn't put on a mask and say everything is okay, he gets real about his feelings. He's drowning quickly. But he does not turn to what we turn to today.
- He didn't turn to drugs, to alchohol, to pornography, to gluttony, to shopping, gambling, or any other "release" that we seek.
- Instead he had a heart to heart with God, crying out in prayer.
- Look in vv. 7-9, this is the content of his prayers. He cycles through emotions with God, but he doesn't hide it.
- He was real yet reverent, honest yet humble.
- Notice God is never put off by this.
- Don't be ashamed to admit your inner turmoil, thinking that voicing your concerns will somehow offend God. Pour out your heart, loud or soft, just pour it out to God, not to some man-made release.
Choose To Redirect Your Thoughts (vv. 4-6, 10-12)
- Walk with Asaph, he has had so many sleepless nights that he finally blames God for keeping his eyelids open.
- But what does he do in those waking moments, he thinks and meditates on God.
- He deliberately focused his thoughts on those past times when God seemed so near.
- What an important step when you feel locked in by depression.
- Maybe we need to regain some perspective. Think about those depressing days, you can't wait to go to bed, and when the morning comes you don't want to get out of bed, why? Your mind sets itself on all the bad things that wait for you. You think about the negative.
- It's essential that when we find ourselves in this spot that we take a mental time-out and take a long hard look in the rearview mirror at God's past blessings.
- Listen, when you mark God's faithfulness in the past, you condition your weary heart with hope for tomorrow.
Magnify God to Diminish Your Problems (vv. 13-20)
- There is something about worship that recalibrates the soul
- But it's probably safe to say, the natural response of the depressed person is not to worship. Rather we want to bail out on God, bail out on everyone else.
- Yet Asaph willed himself to come to worship.
- Sometimes you can't do it on your own. That's why it's so important to come to worship with others. When you don't have enough of your own faith, you can always borrow from others.
- And Asaph focuses on God and worships Him. Look at the drastic change in the Asaph from the beginning and the Asaph here.
- Worship moved him from a self-imploded funk to a God-enthralled declaration of faith!
- He focuses on God's holiness, His miracle-working, God's redemption!
- Many of us when we find ourselves in depression we have big problems and a little God.
- That's what happened to Asaph. But he kept sending an SOS to God, he forced himself to rehearse God's past blessing, and he worshipped.
- This took him to a place where hope for the future is strengthened.
- Then for Asaph, God was big, and his problems weren't. Now it's your turn!