As I bring this series to a close let me ask the question, “What’s bugging you?” The reason is that depression can be that constant pain that gnaws at your heart and if not shared can destroy you! The constant nibbling can bring you to the point of a breakdown. So, can you identify what is it bothers you? I will sum up the series by looking at the causes of depression identified in Psalms 42-43. These seemingly answer the rhetorical question the Psalmist asks over and over again. “Why are you downcast O my soul?” This I will do in a sermon I will divide into two parts.
- Lack of Fulfillment
The Psalmist opens his discussion with the picture of a wandering deer that pants endlessly for streams of water. The picture points to the lack of fulfillment of his utmost desire. Disillusionment with life goals is a common cause of depression among many people. We also sometimes refer to this as a fight with meaninglessness. If you have ever read the book of Ecclesiastes then you understand what am talking about. Life can appear to be meaningless and purposeless if one lacks fulfillment in his/her life goals. The higher the expectations the lower the depression! I must make it clear here that it is not the failure to reach the goals but rather the feeling of emptiness within us that causes this struggle. Even spiritual people, like the Psalmist here, struggle with this kind of depression. In fact, let me say that majority of highly driven people struggle more with this kind of depression. It simply goes with the territory! The more you aim at the lower you will sink! I invite you to study carefully the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes and be careful to underline 2:24-26.
- Difficult People
The second cause of depression the Psalmist outlines is people who constantly mock and deride him. The people with their words and actions (or inaction) can be a cause of the deepest hurt that one would experience in life. I choose to call them difficult people because people should bring joy and fulfillment in life. However, people, even well-meaning people, can be a cause for the deepest disappointment in life. The more the commitment to a person the deeper you will hurt if they disappoint you. Depression can envelop you easily if your friends become your tormentors or your spouse turns into a foe! This kind of depression is a slow festering wound that might never heal if reconciliation is not sought. Sample the following situation from Psalm 41:5-9
My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die and his name perish?“ When one of them comes to see me, he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander; then he goes out and spreads it around. All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me, saying,
“A vile disease has afflicted him;
he will never get up from the place where he lies.”
Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.
- Accumulation of Trouble
The third cause of depression as displayed by the Psalmist is endless bombardment by troubles. He barely seems to rise when trouble knocks him down. Each trouble seems to call out to the next so that the Psalmist is always under! We can hear him cry,
“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.”
Nothing can tug a person under depression so easily as an accumulation of trouble. Each blow can communicate hopelessness to our souls to the point where we lose it! It takes extraordinary power to stay afloat in the midst of such assaults. Even the strongest of us can sink when knocked by one trouble after another. The story of Job in the Bible is a classic example! Even upright and strong Job seems to buckle especially when he receives news of the demise of all of his children. None of us is strong enough to weather a lifetime of bombardment with trouble!
“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.”
(To be continued)