Psalm 42 is an oft quoted Psalm for it’s pictorial use of a deer looking for water. What’s often not realized is the tenor of David’s soul as he wrote the Psalm. He was a man who was undoubtedly depressed. His soul was deeply grieved to the point that his heart cried out:
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? why art thou disquieted in me?
He cried this out twice…twice in wonderment David looked at himself and wondered “what’s wrong with me”! He had gone to the temple and worshiped with others. He participated in the outward motions of praising God, yet deep inside him he wrestled with despair. He wrestled with bouts of doubts and inaccurate thinking about God-it was a deep struggle within him. He wondered-God why have you abandoned me, why have you left me alone!
Certainly, there was one external circumstance that led him to his despair…he had enemies that wanted to see him dead. These enemies were scornful towards David’s God mocking him saying: “Where is your God?” It’s amazing how the small minded thoughts of those around us (many of whom we personally love and appreciate) can throw us into the deepest states of discouragement and depression. Yet, they are small minded in comparison to the God of all eternity that measured the depth of the Pacific and Atlantic in the palm of His hand. It’s amazing how the unexpected twists and turns of the events of life can take us from the joy of the expected, to the despair of the unexpected. Yet, the unexpected twists of life are never outside the control and mind of the almighty God. His ambulance has never done an unexpected emergency run.
It was this very comparison that led David to the source of escaping his despair. Changing those enemies around him would never led to freedom from discouragement and depression. This is why in Psalm 42, David boldly proclaims twice as he wondered what was wrong with himself:
Hope in God.
The deepest war we will face regarding discouragement and despair will be fought on the battle field of trust. Is my hope and trust in what those around me will do to me? Is my hope and trust in the security and pleasures that those around me can give me? Is my hope and trust in the dreams and desires that I strive for, that others help me obtain? We are often looking to that which has been created to repair the wounds in our souls that only the Maker can heal.
I’m not sure I’ve ever met a person who never struggled with discouragement and a gripping despair. Certainly, some hide it better than others, but it is a battle that everyone faces. Some may face it in relation to family members, others may face it due to church problems and spiritual discouragements. Still others may face despair due to health or financial problems. The opportunities for despair are truly endless. Satan would love for us to believe the question: “Where is your God?” in the midst of our struggles. Most likely in the midst of the struggles, we will look at ourselves and wonder: “What’s wrong with me!” Yet, if we seek Him, we will find that He was and is always there telling us one thing:
Hope in Me.