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Finding God When You Need Him Most - Experiencing God When You're Troubled and Depressed, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
December 2, 2022 5:00 am

Finding God When You Need Him Most - Experiencing God When You're Troubled and Depressed, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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December 2, 2022 5:00 am

Do you feel blue, kinda down, depressed? We all get that way from time to time. But when that emotion threatens to pull you under what do you do? Where do you go? Who do you turn to? Chip considers a passage, from Psalm 77, that has helped him deal with difficult times over the years.

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Do you feel blue, kind of down, depressed? We all get that way from time to time, but when that emotion threatens to pull you under, what do you do? Where do you go?

Who do you turn to? Today we're going to consider a passage from Psalm 77 that has helped me more than any passage in Scripture when I struggle with depression. I think it's going to help you.

Stay with me. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. The mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. And if he just described where you're at emotionally, spiritually, or mentally right now, then this program is going to speak to you. And to help you get the absolute most out of today's teaching, let me encourage you to download Chip's message notes. They include his outline, the scripture he's going to reference, and some fill-ins to help you remember what you're learning.

You can get them by going to the broadcasts tab at, app listeners tap fill-in notes. Well, with that, let's join Chip as he continues our series, Finding God When You Need Him Most, in the book of Psalms, chapter 77. How to experience God when you feel depressed. We're going to touch on what depression is and give you a little bit of information, but I want to say at the outset, we're talking about that normal kind of depression, the ups and downs that all of us have from day to day. I have ups and downs, but we're going to learn, in fact, that there's personality types that struggle more than others. By the grace of God, I'm one of those that doesn't much. But when I do, I don't think little and depression ever go in the same sentence with me.

I don't get it often, but when I do, I go straight to the tank. 1994 in August, I remember it was the beginning of a study break. It was the hardest, most difficult year I'd ever had in my life to that point. And you know how when there's something you've got to do, something you've got to do, something you've got to do, you keep pushing, you keep pushing, you keep pushing, and then you stop. I stopped in August.

And I still remember because the 11th day I was up at Donner and the 11th day in August, I woke up one morning and there was just a tiny little barrel, tiny flicker of joy, of maybe a little happiness, not much. And I just realized how depressed I was. I was unmotivated.

I was having thoughts the first 10, 11 days of August. I don't like doing what I don't want to live this way anymore. I don't want to be a pastor.

I don't want to teach God's word. I don't want to get up. I don't want to go anywhere. My anger was just underneath the surface. My poor family, you know, I'm not a yeller and a screamer, but I just, you know, I wanted to be disconnected.

The phone rang. It's not for me. I didn't want to go to a meeting. I didn't want to see people.

Some of you understand exactly what I'm talking about. I was depressed. I was really depressed. Now, I learned that there are a lot of good reasons for that. I learned some things that were unwise about not getting the emotional renewal that I needed. I learned that fatigue and stress and physical things can pour into this deal. And I made some decisions in 1994 about how I would live the rest of my life that I had stuck to. Depression worked for my good in the long haul.

As you pull out the teaching handout, I put an excerpt from a book that might be helpful for all of us. Follow along as I read because I want you to get some perspective on this. It says depression is as old as human history. The Bible has many examples of people struggling with despondency and despair. In his depression and fatigue, Elijah asked for his life to be taken.

Pretty godly man. And he said, God, take me out. Jonah felt deeply despondent after God did not destroy Nineveh. Jeremiah regretted the day he was born.

Job's wife advised him to curse God and die in the midst of his suffering and pain. And then even well-known church leaders like Martin Luther, John Bunyan, Charles Haddon Spurgeon and J.B. Phillips had massive struggles with depression. World leaders like Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln clearly documented had waves of depression that were debilitating to their life. Depression in fact is no respecter of persons. It has been called the common cold of emotional disorders and it appears to be on the rise. In the United States, it's the most prevalent and most serious of mental disorders. It afflicts about 20 percent of the population at some time in their life and according to something read recently, one out of eight people in America will need medical attention for their depression at some point in their life.

People of both genders get depressed although women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression. Now before you turn the page, I want to ask you a couple of questions. Where is God when this happens? I mean when you feel depressed, where's God? Where's your faith? Where's the victorious Christian life? Where's the peace that passes understanding? Where's that abundant life John 10 10 that you've experienced and you've told other people about? And then how are you supposed to deal with this?

I mean what would God say? How do you deal with this? Do you deny it? Do you fake it? Do you bury it? Do you repress it?

When you feel really down, really blue, really sad, really depressed, I mean what's the right response? Buy a new toy? Turn on the TV?

Eat more? Have an affair? Those are the kind of things people do. Pretend it doesn't exist? What exactly would God have us do when we experience what so many of us do experience and what we all will experience from time to time?

Now turn the page and what I'd like to suggest is that the answer to those questions are very complex and what I want you to know by way of expectation is I'm not going to try and give you a 25 cent answer to a 25 thousand dollar question. Depression is very complex. It has multiple causes. It has to do with situations that involve your whole life.

Physical issues, spiritual issues, relational issues, psychological issues, but here's what I want you to know for sure. God understands your depression and God wants to help you in your depression. And what I also want you to understand is that when you're depressed it doesn't mean that God has left. It doesn't necessarily mean that you've sinned and I also want you to know that if you're depressed you're in good company. A lot of very, very godly people, people much more godly, people with more faith than you or me will ever have struggle with depression.

In fact, look at the text here. We have what I've entitled A Song of Comfort for the Dark Night of the Soul by David's choir director Asaph. He wrote this psalm inspired by the Holy Spirit. Listen carefully to the first nine verses and what you're going to hear, even among the most godly of people, there are days, there are times when depression just slams us to the ground and you hear this man of God pour out his heart. Verse one, I cried out to God for help. I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress I sought the Lord. At night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered you, oh God, and I groaned and I mused and my spirit grew faint. Do you hear those words?

These are the words of a very depressed guy. In fact, literally the first line there, it's my voice to God. The author puts it in an unusual word order to let you know there's emphasis, there's pain, there's hurt. He said, my voice, I'm trying to get up to God and we're going to learn he's in great distress. But his experience is God can't be found.

Look at verse four. You kept my eyes from closing. Translation, I can't sleep. I was too troubled to speak. I'm confused inside.

I can't sort this out. I thought about the former days, the years long ago. I remembered my songs in the night. He's so depressed and then he starts to reflect.

Do you know how you do that? He thinks, you know, gosh, I used to be up at night but not like this. I remember getting up in the middle of the night and he's a musician. And he said, I remember getting up in the night and singing songs to you, Lord. I remember rehearsing the great things you did and the answers to prayer and the great relationships and the joy in my heart. And then he goes on to say, when I remember back and reflect, he says, I mused.

That word means I thought, I considered, I meditate, I pondered. And my spirit inquired. And you're going to see in the next few verses, he's going to ask six rhetorical questions. And behind these six rhetorical questions are two premises.

And the premises are mainly this. He is questioning. He's so depressed. His thinking has become so distorted.

He is so down. He's in the dark night of his soul. He's going to question two things that are at the core of our existence. The promise of God's presence and the commitment of God to keep his promises.

And he's going to be so depressed. Basically, these six questions are going to ask, God, are you even there? Doubt, confusion, distress. And God, are you going to are you going to do what you said you would do? I mean, can you be trusted to keep your word?

Look at the six questions first. Will the Lord reject forever? In other words, is this going to go on and on and on? Will he never show his favor again? Are all the good memories going to be in the rear view mirror?

Nothing in the windshield of my life. Has his unfailing or his covenant love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? God, is that the problem?

Is there something I did wrong that I don't understand? I'm alone. I hurt. I'm down. I'm sad. I'm blue. And two things I've got that I can't understand.

Where are you? And what about those promises? Have you ever felt like that? Have you ever felt just like what he's saying?

Boy, I sure have. I get it in little waves probably a few days a week, not big, just little waves. And if they get stacked up and if you don't deal with these kind of feelings and these kind of thoughts well, they can grow into big waves, can't they? And they can get to where the alarm goes off and you don't want to get up.

They can get to where when the phone rings, you let it ring. It's just one more layer, one more guilt, one more pain, one more message to return. Well, I want you to know God understands your depression and today he wants to help you. We're going to look at two major life lessons. And under the second life lesson or principle about how to handle depression, we're going to look at specifically how God teaches us through Asaph how to deal with those low, blue feelings. The first life lesson, times of depression are something that even the most Godly wrestle with on occasion. Translation, this is normal.

This is normal. Now what I'd like to do is spend some time and I don't have time. I've got probably three or four part series I could do on depression. I've got a folder about this thick on the subject.

Studied the area quite a bit. What I want to do is try and briefly before we go on define depression a little bit. Talk about some of the symptoms that I don't have to spend too much time on because when you're there you know it. And give you just a brief rundown on the causes so that at least we're all on the same page in the kind of depression we're talking about.

To do that, let me give you first some very quick symptoms. This is what happens when you're depressed. You have feelings of hopelessness and apathy. You lose perspective.

It's hard to concentrate. There's often physical side effects, sleeplessness, a total loss of diet or just the opposite. A change, loss of sex drive often. A sense of I don't care. Low self-esteem, you start not liking yourself. You tend to withdraw from people and relationships.

You begin fantasy thinking like you want to escape. Like I just want to get out of here. There's times when I've been really feeling low and I've finished the last service. And I've just felt like if I talk to one more person, my head's going to bust right off my shoulders and I've wanted to say amen at the end of the service and turn and run out the back door.

But that's not usually an option. But don't look at me that way. I just had, you know, you're looking at me like, I have a bad day now and then too, but I have to go to work when I'm having a bad day too. I just pray my way through it.

When it gets very severe, often suicidal thinking, you know, you get so helpless, especially if it gets to be clinical depression. You're oversensitive to what others do. You interpret others' actions. You think everybody's against you. Anger becomes a real issue.

It's just below the surface. You tend to cast it where it doesn't really belong at yourself and others. A lot of guilt is involved. You start not liking yourself, feel bad, feel guilty. Dependency can grow and you need help.

And then when people help you, then you're angry at them because you feel helpless and that's not a good cycle. And finally, how we act when we're depressed tends to, unless we make some radical choices, promote further depression. Now, let me give you some kind of definitions of depression.

Just a couple definitions here so that we're on the same page. One, depression is an emotion like any other emotion. It's just a description of how you feel. Second, as an emotion, depression is for the most part, you ready for this?

Morally neutral. In fact, some depression is very normal. Grief is a form of depression. Depression varies tremendously.

We have it from the mild forms of disappointments and let downs or feeling a little blue to what you call clinical depression where suicidal thoughts and you can't eat and you don't want to eat and escapism behavior. Depression is not sin. It's a normal reaction to what's occurring spiritually, psychologically or physically. But, let me add, it can be sin. Psalm 32, you might jot that down. David has sinned and I mean he exhibits in Psalm 32 the characteristics of clinical depression. Unresolved sin and guilt before God will bring about depression. But depression in and of itself, as you're going to see, has a lot of different causes.

It's not necessarily sin. Depression is a screen. It's a message that we have neglected some area of our life or there is a need in our life and that our perception of reality has been distorted. Depression also can be a warning system that we're moving toward deeper water. It's a protective device to remove us from stress, to give us time, here's the goal, to recover, explore its purpose and grow from the process if we're willing to use it in that way. I made decisions that have changed my life and my habits forever because I decided if I live like this, I'm not going to do this anymore. I decided what I'm going to do and some priorities with my family.

I decided about emotional renewal, what's going to be built into my week if I'm going to keep doing this job. And that depression served me well. Finally, although depression is normal, that's not to say that we should linger in depression.

It can quickly grow into a monster that saps our strength and paralyzes our life. By way of causes of depression, there I think at least four major causes. You can put them in three categories really.

One is physical, two is psychological and three is spiritual. You know what, I'm going to go briefly because here's all I want to do. I want to paint a quick background so that when we get back into the text, you'll understand the kind of depression this text is dealing with and get help. But for some of you, if you're clinically depressed, there's some things that happen in your brain and the neurotransmitters in your brain, the synapses don't connect anymore and you have some chemicals in your brain. But when those things don't happen in your brain right, I'll tell you what, you can't think right. There are some of you and some of you feel very badly about it that are on medication. You're on antidepressants and you've had clinical depression. And I want you to know that there are certain times you need medicine to get your thinking and your brain working in a way so that you can begin to work through the issues. In fact, some of you have physical problems that cause your depression. There's a type of blood pressure medicine medication that will cause this to happen. If you have an underactive thyroid, if your electrolytes get low, there are multiple physical reasons why people get depressed.

Fatigue, hypoglycemia, endocrine imbalance, certain kinds of diet, viral infections. Those of you that have had babies, one out of ten women experience severe postpartum depression. Those are physical causes that can lead people into severe depression. Praying isn't the only answer.

Now let me be quick to say, because I know I'm on delicate ground here. Many people get depressed and it's sort of a chicken versus the egg, which comes first. And there's unresolved issues and there's unresolved anger and there's stress and there's lifestyle changes and spiritual changes that need to happen. You get clinically depressed, you get on medication. Let me be quick to say, medication's not the answer. You may need medication temporarily to get your body right so you can deal with the root issues, but to use medication to mask those and not work on those issues is as faulty a thinking as saying that medication is never right.

So I'm trying to balance out, and I think it's very important that we say this. Root causes of depression, some are physical. Some are psychological. A great loss of any type, real or concrete. Anger that's turned inward, that is 95% of people's depression. Guilt, real or imagined.

Stress, major transitions in your life, going through adolescence, career choice, marriage, parenthood, first home, teenagers, midlife, retirement. Grief, faulty thinking where you have a poor self-image, unrealistic expectation, self-pity. Spiritual causes of depression.

There's times where it's spiritual. Spiritually, when you have an intensive period of ministry, depression can happen. When there's true guilt, spiritually, you can get depressed. When you have a wrong perspective, wrong expectation, Psalm 73, you can get depressed. When there's satanic attack, you can get depressed. When you try and do the will of God out of the energy of the flesh instead of out of the energy and power of the spirit, you can get depressed. When your priorities are out of whack spiritually, you can get depressed. When you have a relationship breakdown, you can get depressed.

Do you see how complex this is? Depression is rooted in physical issues, psychological issues, emotional issues, and relational issues. And unlike how we think, God did not make us where we have a spiritual compartment, and a physical compartment, and a relational compartment, all those things fit together. And so what you need to do is you need to understand a little bit about who you are, what God is doing, but by and large, there's gonna be maybe 10% of the people or less who are clinically depressed and you need medical help. But for the 90% of us, we just basically have ups and downs, ebbs and flows. It's responding to life, responding to people, responding to kids, responding to some minor health issues, responding to a little bit of anger. And what can happen is that depression can take us down the tube. How do you respond to that? You've been listening to part one of Chip's message, Experiencing God When You Are Troubled and Depressed. He'll be right back with his application for this teaching from his series, Finding God When You Need Him Most. It's been said adversities in life are a lot like experiencing storms on the ocean. Either you've just faced one, you're facing one now, or you're about to face one.

Sounds depressing, right? So how do we prepare? As Chip studies a few key chapters from the book of Psalms, he identifies several tools God's given us to develop courage, strength, and hope in us, regardless of the circumstances. Let me encourage you to get more plugged in with this series by visiting

Well, Chip's with me in studio now, and Chip, you know, for years you've talked about the importance of renewing our minds. And one of the ways you did that was by writing on three-by-five cards specific areas where you needed encouragement. As a result, we've developed a number of what we call discipleship card sets based on the major areas you highlighted for yourself. Now, could you tell us a little bit more about them and why they're so helpful?

God be glad to, Dave. You know, just to myself, I just felt so overwhelmed in the Christian life and so I would write down on specific cards like on spiritual warfare or goals for parenting. And so Living on the Edge, I really appreciate the team said, you know, Chip, yours are pretty sloppy.

They're kind of hard to read. We're going to take the very best of what you've done in these key areas, and we're going to put them on these very nice small cards in a very nice box so that a person could just look at one or two each day and keep that in front of them. And what we've learned, because the Bible teaches as you renew your mind, rather than the try-hard I've got to change today, this is something where people get planted in their mind, their subconscious, and little by little by little God changes our desires because we're renewing our mind with the truth.

And so it's been just something I still do to this day. I have a stack of three by five cards, and now I use our discipleship cards. I'm finding that as people are introduced to the faith or they want to grow, at this stage in the world, we need to make it really easy to get them started. Dave, why don't you tell people how they can get them?

Be glad to, Chip. Well, to get your hands on any of our discipleship cards, go to or call us at 888-333-6003. Whether you're wanting to have better conversations with your kids, understand the spiritual war going on around us, or grasp why we are all precious to God, these resources will encourage you. And right now we've discounted all of our discipleship cards, just in time for the holiday season. To gift one or a few of these sets to someone in your life, place your order by December 12th to receive them by Christmas.

Again, go to or call 888-333-6003. App listeners tap special offers. Well, here's Chip to share some final thoughts. As we close today's program, let me give you a brief review that will help us think through this issue of depression, because it is very widespread.

In fact, the number one drug prescribed in America to all Americans is antidepressants. Now, we made a very clear distinction in the teaching that there is clinical depression with physiological causes that require medical attention. That is not what I'm going to talk about now.

This will be helpful for that. But what I'm talking about is sort of the normal, everyday discouragement that turns to the blues, where you get depressed, you lose perspective. I'm going to talk about how you deal with that, because in Psalm 77, that's what God was speaking through the Psalmist. So number one, remember, depression is normal. I mean, David got depressed, Charles Spurgeon got depressed, great leaders get depressed. You're not bad or sinful just because you get depressed. Number two, remember there are varying degrees of depression.

And so if it's over a long period of time, you start getting suicidal thoughts, you lose your appetite, you're in bed all the time, you need to go get medical help and see a good counselor. Number three, remember, depression is rooted in physical, spiritual, and emotional causes. We tend to divide these, and we think that we're not made as a whole. The fact of the matter is, there's physical things that can get your emotions out of kilter that begin to cause you to be depressed. There's times when we sin.

We know from Psalm 32, David sins, and I mean, he goes into clinical depression because he doesn't deal with it. And so he talks about the physiological issues. Depression is normal. It has to do with the holistic person, your mind, your body, and your soul, your emotions, all that you are.

Here's what you need to remember. Your emotions are triggered by your thinking and perspective. And for the general depression or struggles that most of us have, it begins with wrong, warped thinking.

And that's why we renew our mind. I don't get up in the morning and read the Bible so I can check a little box and say, Oh, I did my religious duty. I don't, I don't have to feel guilty now because I read the Bible. I get up and read the Bible because left to myself, I will get a warped view of God, myself, my circumstances.

I need the truth in my life. You may not feel like it, but I will tell you the Psalms are the best antidepressant that I can give you in all the world. Read them and realize other people feel like you feel and you will find words of hope and life as you pray those Psalms back to God. Great encouragement, Chip. Well, if you're in the midst of a painful season right now, let us pray for you. We truly care about what's going on in your life.

So let me encourage you. Call us at 888-333-6003 and a member of our team would be happy to pray for you. That's 888-333-6003. Or if it's easier, email us at chip at That's chip at Well, until next time, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-02 05:11:45 / 2022-12-02 05:22:37 / 11

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