God brings these things to bring about a spiritual disassociation from ourselves and from this world so that we are more centered on trusting Christ and looking forward to what lies ahead for us in glory rather than loving ourselves and loving this world. Life can be difficult and sad, leading to depression.
If you've ever experienced it, you know how devastating it can be. Thankfully, the Bible offers some counsel that can help, and Pastor Don Green will take us there today on the truth pulpit. Hi, I'm Bill Wright, and as Don teaches God's people God's Word, his message today is titled, Coming Out of Depression. Don, this is a topic that hits home personally for you. Well, you know, my friend, I understand that it can seem like this dark veil that's over your life is never going to lift.
I can understand it because I've been there myself, and it was a long process for me. But God was faithful to me, and he'll be faithful to you as well. In Christ, God does not abandon his children forever, but sometimes he lets us go through a winter of discouragement, a winter of despair.
But it's always for the sake of bringing a spring of encouragement, a spring of blessing, a springtime of hope that follows on the other side of that dark time of discouragement that you're going through right now. Look to Christ afresh, my friend. He is faithful, and he is there with you.
Even if you cannot feel him, his presence is a reality that no man can take away. And if you don't know Christ, put your faith in him and cry out to him. He said, Come to me, all who weary and are heavy laden, and I will give rest to your soul. Look to Christ. He will bring you out in the end.
Thanks, Don. And friend, let's get started now in the truth pulpit. It has been a while, but I've known the dark days of depression in my own Christian life, and I always have a measure of sympathy and patience with those that are walking through those days, because you see it in scripture, you know it by experience, and you realize that sometimes people just need a loving arm around them to be patiently walk through the sorrow with them. It's not without purpose that Paul said in Romans 12 15, weep with those who weep. Sometimes the best thing that we can give to a struggling person is our sympathy, is to give them our ear, not quickly to run to instruct them or rebuke them because of the difficult nature of life. And so Psalm 77 addresses us in those ways.
We're going to break it into two sections. In the first section, the first nine verses of this, you could say a bitter look, a bitter look at past days. As the psalm opens, he's reflecting on the past. He's discouraged in the present, and he opens with a loud lamentation that expresses the torture that he feels in his soul.
Look at verse one with me. He says, my voice rises to God and I will cry aloud. My voice rises to God and he will hear me. In the original text, it reads something like this, a little more broken than the way they try to smooth it out in the English. In the original text, it reads, my voice to God and I will cry aloud.
My voice to God and he will hear me. The repetition and the absence of corresponding verbs, emphasizing his deep lament. There's a groan that this psalm opens with.
Oh, my voice to God, my voice to God. And so even in the opening part of it, you get a sense of the groaning that is taking place in his heart. His tortured soul crying out to God and his voice expressing the turmoil and the anguish of his heart.
Somehow a crisis, a chronic problem of some kind has assaulted him over a period of time. Look at verse two with me. In the day of my trouble, I sought the Lord.
In the night, my hand was stretched out without weariness. My soul refused to be comforted. When I remember God, then I am disturbed. When I sigh, then my spirit grows faint. As he speaks of his outstretched hand, that was an Old Testament posture for prayer. What he's saying here is that this lament, this cause of my concern and discouragement has been a matter of prayer for me for an ongoing period of time.
I have cried out at night. I have stretched out my hand, extended my heart toward God in prayer, and yet I'm still here in the midst of this lament. And his words in these verses are giving us a sense of what we loosely call his depression. I'm not using that in a clinical sense, simply as a convenient term to say that he is sad, he is struggling, he is downcast.
That's the sense in which we're using it. And if you look there in verses two and three with me, his soul is refusing to be comforted. He was disturbed. His spirit was growing faint, and his sighs are venting the exasperation that he feels with the ongoing nature of this problem that has no solution in sight and, might we say, has no end in sight. Some of you are there.
We've talked about it in private conversations. It's one thing to have a problem and to see a way out of it and say, okay, I know how step one will lead to step two to step three, and this all resolves. It's quite another thing, quite another thing to be in the midst of a chronic challenge in life, whether it's relational or physical or financial, a chronic situation of life, and there is no human solution to it. I've been there.
Many of you are there right now. Those of you that have never experienced this in Christian life, take a number. It will come to you in due course, in due time, because this is the nature of life in a fallen world, and the psalmist addresses it and expresses it with an honest vigor that is appealing to those of us that have been there. And so as he's opening here in this section, it seems hopeless to him, and he is losing his will to continue the struggle. You know, Scripture, Proverbs talks about a man's illness he can bear, but who can bear a broken heart? When your heart is broken, when your heart is despairing in the midst of the struggle, then what do you have to go forward with? And the salah there at the end of verse 3 tells us to pause for a moment and to consider the situation, to look at the psalmist, not with a sense of criticism for what he is expressing, but to stop and look and to consider and to identify and sympathize with him in his discouragement.
And so we do that. We look back and we look at these prior three verses, and we see the groan in verse 1, his expression of prayerfulness that has gone unanswered in verse 2, and to the point now where in verse 3, where his heart is so agitated that he says to remember God simply disturbs me even more. And there's just this bubbling cauldron of confusion and discouragement that he is expressing as he opens it. Now, as you move on, he continues in this kind of striking candor, this transparency that is so spiritually useful to us, and he tells us the troubles of his heart and what it has been like for him, even physically.
Look at verse 4. He says, you have held my eyelids open. I am so troubled that I cannot speak. He hasn't been able to sleep. He's lost sleep over this, over time.
And it's at a point where he can't even put words to what is on his heart. And so there's just this dark cloud that is defining his existence, and that present condition would be bad enough for him. It would be bad enough to not be able to sleep over his troubles. It would be bad enough to have his heart so worked into knots that he couldn't even describe it with words. Do you know what that's like?
No, I do from time to time. You don't even want to start a conversation about it because you don't even know where to begin, right? You don't even know where to begin.
How do I even start to explain to you the circumstances in a way that you would understand the desperation and the discouragement that I feel in my heart? But his problem as you go through it is even deeper than that. There's another compounding layer to the struggles of his soul, and you see it in verses 5 and 6. He says, I have considered the days of old, the years of long ago. I will remember my song in the night.
I will meditate with my heart and my spirit ponders. What's he saying here? He's looking back into the past. I've considered the days of old. He's remembering earlier days in his life, and in those earlier days there was a sense of happiness. There were times of song in his past, and in those happy days, in those more joyful days that are not his present experience, but he remembers them. He thinks back when life was like that, and he can remember the time where God seemed near to him, where answers to prayer seemed to flow very naturally, very quickly, very easily, and he remembers what that was like.
I remember the song in the night. I considered the days of old, the years of long ago. God had acted to save the psalmist. He had acted to save his people in their times of distress. And as he's looking back on that, he says, I remember when my life was like that, but that doesn't help him now in the present.
It's kind of an odd dynamic in one sense that we'll explain as we go along in a moment. He remembers when life was like that, but now life is different. Now God is not providing the deliverance that he wants, that he needs. He is suffering without relief. There is no answer in sight, and so his restless spirit is remembering happy songs in the night from times ago, but now what does nighttime bring to him?
Sleeplessness, cogitation, restless, tossing complaint in his life, and so he's laid it out honestly. Laid it out, first of all, vertically before the Lord, but also laid it out for an audience to come and read later. Oh, and look, this just reminds us that the fundamental nature and the fundamental needs of man, the fundamental struggles of people, of faith, really haven't changed over 2,700 years. It's a futility and a folly of the vain modern mind to think we have new circumstances and new spiritual needs today that Scripture hasn't addressed.
That's not true. What this psalmist was expressing some 2,500 years ago is sometimes the experience of the people of God today. So let's stop for a moment and assess where he's at, and to assess him sympathetically and yet also objectively. If you went through those first six verses, you would find that he has referred to himself 21 times in these first six verses with the pronouns I, my, or me. 21 times in six verses. It might seem like, in those six verses, that he has been focusing on his God, but he's really not. He's not thinking quite right about God. He is remembering God over past happiness, not in the context of present trust. We say it sympathetically to his situation. We say it recognizing that we are of like flesh with him, of like passions, of like affections, but his faith is mixed with a prominent element of self-pity as measured by these self-referential statements that he is making.
And in the verses that follow, in verses 7 through 9, he states six rhetorical questions that show just how desperate he had become. Verse 7, will the Lord reject forever? Will he never be favorable again? Has his loving kindness ceased forever? Has his promise come to an end forever? Has God forgotten to be gracious, or has he in anger withdrawn his compassion?
Now, the answer to all six of those questions is obviously no. Obviously God has not rejected him forever, not from any objective biblical perspective. God will certainly be favorable again in the future. Of course God's loving kindness has not ceased forever. Of course his promise has not expired. Of course God has not forgotten him.
Of course God has not in anger withdrawn his compassion. Of course, of course, of course, the answer to all these questions is obviously no, but here's his problem. His problem is that his feelings are arguing against the truth. His feelings, his sleeplessness, his discouragement, his cloudy, discouraged, distorted thinking is not letting him process that truth in an accurate way. And so the first section ends with this bitter look at past days with another salah, an important break in the text here. And basically at this break, at this hinge point, at this junction in Psalm 77, he's laid out what his problem is.
He stated it plainly. He has clearly articulated the spiritual struggle that he is facing and the effect that it has had upon him. And the fact that, whereas you might have looked back superficially and it seemed like he was standing on a mountain, seeming like he was one of the stalwarts of faith in God in those happier days, but now he finds himself in the valley. And you know, when you've been on that kind of mountaintop, and if people have affirmed you on that kind of mountaintop, and oh, what a great, you know, man of faith you are, now you find yourself in the valley, that's a very difficult place to be. It's humbling to be in the valley when previously you were leading the procession of the people of God, you might say.
When previously you thought you were an example, now you've been reduced to a more difficult situation. Now, let's just pause for a moment and just ask ourselves, now why would God do that? Why would God allow us to go through such a time?
Why would God more accurately, more actively stated, why would he orchestrate the circumstances of our life to bring such difficulty to bear upon us? Why not simply set us on a five-lane wide road, perfectly paved, that we can just drive in smoothness into the kingdom of heaven? Why not just do it that way? It'd sure be a lot easier, wouldn't it? It'd be a lot more pleasant.
Why this? Well, I think that we, when we consider the totality of what Scripture says, there are some things that we need to realize, things that we need to understand. It's that God does this in part to humble us, he does it in part to break our spirit of self-sufficiency, and perhaps even more to break our sense of attachment to this world.
It's easy for us to develop a sense of pride in thinking that we've got it all under control. Well, these kinds of experiences disabuse us of that false view of self. If things were always smooth, you know from your own experience, if things were always smooth, you would lose your sense of dependence upon Christ.
You would lose any sense of dependence on God, because who needs God if everything is cool, if everything is good, if everything is well? And so God allows us, God brings these difficulties into our lives to teach us humility, to teach us dependence rather than independence and self-sufficiency, but also those of you that have trod the path of saints a little longer than the younger ones, the newer Christians in our midst, isn't it true? Isn't it true that your deepest trials have taught you something that you can't just read in a book or watch in an online video and appropriate as your own? Isn't it true that your hardest, deepest, most gut-wrenching, tear-producing trials have a way of breaking your affection for this world? Isn't it true that going through a deep valley like that helps you to see more clearly what Scripture would teach us from the beginning, that this world is not our home?
That you realize that your affections and the permanence and the security for which you long is not to be found in this earth, but rather still awaits the consummation of your salvation when you're with Christ in glory? You young people go to older people you know have walked through trials and they'll tell you that, well yeah I'm right there with the pastor on that one, yes sir. But it's true, and God brings these things to cultivate in us a greater sanctification to bring about a spiritual disassociation from ourselves and from this world so that we are more centered on trusting Christ and looking forward to what lies ahead for us in glory rather than loving ourselves and loving this world.
And so he brings us to a point of dependence and it may please him to leave us there for a very long and extended period of time. Look over at 2 Corinthians chapter 12 with me in this regard. 2 Corinthians chapter 12. We're at a hinge point, remember, in Psalm 77. And this is where the health and wealth, the prosperity gospel movement is so discouraging, so very unbiblical, and so destructive to the spiritual well-being of people who look to them for spiritual answers because they tell people that your trials are an indication of a lack of faith on your part.
Well this is nonsense. This is silliness to think, as some people have suggested to me in the very recent past, that God doesn't want you to experience disease, he doesn't want you to experience difficulty. Well this is just not squared up with Scripture at all. God brings these things to accomplish sanctifying spiritual goals in our lives, and the Apostle Paul is example A in that exhibit. Here he is, he's an apostle, he's seen visions that no one else has seen, he's so great were the visions that he's not permitted to speak about them.
He's an apostle who had seen the resurrected Christ directly appointed by Christ. He was this great man in the realm of the kingdom of God, and yet God didn't allow him to find his satisfaction and his boast in those kinds of things. And he says very specifically in 2 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 7, because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, look at this, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, and he repeats himself, to keep me from exalting myself. Why is it that God brings extended trials into our lives? In part, beloved, it is because he understands how deeply rooted pride is even in the redeemed heart, how greatly tempted we are to self-sufficiency, to boast in ourselves, to feel like we have it all under control, and gradually imperceptibly start to reach out and bring the glory and put it on ourselves, turn the spotlight away from our Savior and onto ourselves so that we are the center of attention as the one who did it all, as the one who did it my way. So why does God humble us like that? To keep us from exalting ourselves.
Our pride, our self-sufficiency, our attachment to this world is deeper than we realize. Well, we'll pause there for today, but Pastor Don Green will have part two of his message coming out of depression on our next program. Join us then here on The Truth Pulpit.
Right now, though, Don's back here in studio with some closing words. You know, friend, we realize that you may not be close enough to our church to be able to join us as you would like to on any given Sunday, so let me invite you to join us on our livestream that you can find at our website, Sundays at 9 a.m. Eastern Time, and also we have a midweek service on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. We would love to have you join us in that way. A lot of people do. You might as well be one more that join us for those special studies of God's Word and our church services on Sundays and Tuesdays. Here's Bill with some final information to help you find us. Just visit thetruthpulpit.com for the live stream. Again, that's thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you next time as Don Green continues to teach God's people God's Word from the Truth Pulpit.
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