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Why Are You Downcast?

by David Johnson

IMG_0666(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

We all have times of discouragement even depression, the piling on of problems – deep disappointment in ourselves, in others, sometimes we even think in God.  Ever felt helpless?

Hopeless?  Psalm 42 is an individual lament (expression of grief or regret), a crying out, a venting of emotions.  Sometimes we just need to let it out, release, blurt it all out.  The psalmist’s situation was intense despair, aggravated by mockers, those that hinder rather than help us out of the pit, hole the darkness in which we sometimes find ourselves.

But Psalm 42 is not just about depression, it’s also about confession and conquering our dark emotions.  I remember a beloved Brother in the Lord sharing with me, that he read and meditated on a selection from the Book of Psalm and the Book of Proverbs every day as part of his daily devotion in the Word of God to us, for wisdom in his everyday life.  A wise example to us.

So, does just reading the Bible automatically give us godly wisdom?  No!  However consistent, persistent the reading of the Word of God the Bible, saturates our minds and hearts.  The seats of our thinking and emotions with the mind and heart of God.  It saturates our minds and motivates us to better live it out.  To live wiser and godly lives.  We all need to get into the scriptures regularly to draw closer to God.  God knows this world around us can cause us to sink deeper in despair.  God is there for us!  God has wise counsel for each of us.

Listen to the words of wise an overcoming Christian.  “I know what depression means, I feel myself sinking lower and lower yet at worst when I reach the lowest depths and I can find inward peace which no pain or depression can disturb.  Trusting in God there is still a blessed quietness in the deep caverns of my soul, though upon the surface there’s a rough terrible storm raging.”  Does this sound like us?  What’s the key here?  Trusting in God no matter what!  This trust does not come easily; we have to develop it, to mature inwardly in trusting God.  It comes over time, over time trusting the Lord thru difficult trials and troubles.

Let’s learn from Psalm 42 and apply it to our lives.  From verses 1 and 2,” As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go, and meet with God?”  Beautiful poetic imagery here of a deer seeking refreshing water, to be revived.  Do we inwardly pant, pursue after God?  As Christians, we should!  If not, why not?  It is all about a personal, intimate relationship with the living God.  It’s not just a Sunday visit – it’s a daily walk/life in the Lord!  We develop that personal walk thru talking to God (prayer), thru listening to God, thru obedience, daily living godly lives to his glory.  And we all need reviving!  A light of dispel the darkness.

As a deer depends on water for physical life, so especially our inner lives, our souls, depend upon drinking deeply, in our relationship with God.  God is our fountain of life and light to live victorious lives.  God can revive us like water to a parched soul – if we seek him, trust him, put our life in his hands so to speak.  Our drought, dry, desert times need God’s inner streams of the water of life.

From Psalm 42:3 “My tears have been my food, day and night, while men say top me all day long, “where is your God?’”  Some people shed many tears, some are so numb they cannot cry.  Regardless, we all experience deep sadness.  Sometimes today we are ridiculed by unbelieves and skeptics that also say:       in effect, “Where is your God?”  Sometimes we also wonder where is God?  God has not moved!  He is there, we must trust in his presence and power to help us thru our tears and trials.

In Psalm 42:4 “…These things I remember as I pour out my soul; how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God…”  The psalmist probably wrote this as he was exiled to a place far from Jerusalem and the Jewish temple of God and was not able to help lead in the worship with his fellow believers.  But God is spirit, He is not tied down to a place, He is everywhere!

Today, by application, we may be far from home, far from family and loved ones.  Or we may have drifted from a close, meaningful relationship with our God.  God hasn’t moved, but many do move away, even far away from God.   Closeness to God develops trust in our God

From Psalm 42:5 “…Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Then the psalmist gives us part of the remedy, antidote for being downcast!  “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”  Note three important truths here, godly principals to live by for us today also, we all get downcast.

We do not have to go thru droughts without God.  We do not need to drown in depression without God.  We can drink deeply of the reviving, living water of God, streaming in our hearts and minds and wills.

It’s in tough times that we as believer’s measure, weigh, determine our genuine trust and hope, leaning on our Lord.  Depression does not change our salvation in the Lord, still heaven bound as long as we remain faithful in Jesus Christ today.  Depression does not cancel God’s loving care.  Depression must not stop our faith nor our hope in God.  Also, we should not think Christians, even maturing Christians do not suffer from degrees of depression.  We do!

For example, Charles Spurgeon, a great preacher of the 1800’s suffered debilitating bouts of depression all his life.  He stated: “There are dungeons beneath the castles of despair.”

John Knox the great church reformer stated: “Lord Jesus received my spirit and put an end to this miserable life.”  The weeping prophet Jeremiah in chapter20 verse 14 stated: “Cursed be the day I was born!  May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!”  Wow, that’s depressed!

Also, the great prophet of God Elijah in First Kings 19:4 said: “…I have had enough, Lord…take my life.”  Even the apostle Paul in second Corinthians 7:6: “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us…”  Never, ever question a believer’s faith or maturity due to bouts of depression until we have walked in their shoes.  But faith must persevere over our despair.

All of us need to ask ourselves as in Psalm 42:5 “…why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?”  Ask yourself why?  It’s a great help to pinpoint the root of our inner turmoil.  If we’re not sure what the root is – ask God!  From James 1:5:” If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

However, we still need to trust God and believe He is the God of hope!

This is what makes us “believers”; if you are not a Christian, you need to receive Jesus Christ thru obedient faith and then have full access to all God’s promises!


David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.


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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10