Christians in Despair and Depression, Part 3 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #43)

Pilgrim's Progress

Pilgrim’s Progress

PART A


PART B


TEXT: Psalm 77

1 I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.

2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.

3 I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.

4 Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

5 I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.

6 I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.

7 Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?

8 Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?

9 Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.

10 And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.

11 I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.

12 I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.

13 Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?

14 Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.

15 Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.

16 The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled.

17 The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad.

18 The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook.

19 Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.

20 Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Christians in Despair and Depression, Part 3 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #43)

In our last two messages, we have been dealing with a situation that many people, including many Christians, have faced and are facing — how to handle depression and feelings of despair and discouragement. This struggle is not foreign even to the most celebrated of God’s servants. Some of the giants of both the Old and New Testaments struggled with such feelings. To use a Biblical phrase, this condition is “common to man.”

But, what do you do when you are struggling with despair and depression? Last week, we began looking at some solutions to this problem from Psalm 77. This psalm was written by Asaph or one of his associates, and we learned from his example that the first thing we ought to do is cry out to God in prayer. The psalmist admits the struggles that he is facing, he expresses his feelings to God, and he asks God for answers.

Now, let’s look at verses 4-6 of this passage and see how we can take the next step to overcoming depression and despair, and that step is: changing the way we think. The psalmist writes, “Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.”

The psalmist has had some sleepless nights. He believes that God is the cause of his inability to sleep. He says, “Thou holdest mine eyes waking.” You can imagine him lying in bed, unable to sleep, unable to speak, worry and doubt invading his mind. The darkness he feels is not just because of the night, but because there is darkness in his soul. He is so troubled that he cannot talk to anybody but God.

But, as the psalmist lays there trying to work out his problems, something happens. He begins to remember. His mind drifts back to brighter days. He says, “I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night…” One of the best ways to combat depression, despair, and a negative mentality is to change the way you think. Instead of thinking constantly about your problems, think about the days when you did not have any problems. Remember the songs of joy you sang during those times. Remember the many times when, instead of praying, “Lord, help me,” you were able to pray, “Lord, thank you.”

Isn’t it amazing how it is easy for us to dwell on the bad times, but we have to work hard to remember the good times. It’s easy for us to enumerate our problems, but we have to make a conscious decision to count our blessings. In fact, even in the midst of your depressing situation, you ought to look around and find something to be thankful for. Find something positive to think about. You can always start with the most basic of things; for example, the fact that you are alive. If you are alive, you have something to be grateful for.

In verses 10-12, the psalmist sheds light on how he was able to change his mindset. He says, “This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High. I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.” Notice how he acknowledges his reality. He says, “Yes, this is my infirmity. This is my problem. This is my dilemma.” He is not pretending that the problem does not exist. BUT he also determines not to let the negativity of his situation overshadow his life. He determines to change his mindset. Four times, he says, “I will.” It is a conscious decision. He is deliberately choosing to remember the times when he was the recipient of blessings and miracles. The English Standard Version of the Bible catches the forcefulness of the psalmist’s declaration very well. Verse 10 reads: “I am going to force my thoughts out of this dungeon back to the years when I saw God doing great things.”

In the middle of our time of disappointment, depression, and despair, we too need to force our thoughts out of the dungeon and into the daylight of remembrance. Psychologist and mental health specialist, Kristi DeName, describes the mind as a city and our thoughts as streets in that city. In a city, some streets “are beautiful, safe, open and pleasant.” However, other streets are “dark and dangerous. They lead to harm. To turn down a street like this is a choice, and can be a form of self-sabotage.” She writes: “We can control whether to continue down a dark alleyway. We can choose to follow our negative self-defeating thoughts, or we can choose to step back and observe them, accept them for what they are, but then keep going… Engaging our negative thoughts can lead us to impulsive behaviors, self-harming habits, depressive thoughts, irrational beliefs, ineffective responses, isolation, sadness, anger, and self-sabotage.” If you are already feeling down, the last thing you need to be doing is dwelling on negative thoughts.

Dear friend, you might be in a negative situation physically. For example, you may be sick, you may have lost your job, you may have failed to reach a major goal in life, or someone near and dear to you may have died. While you should not deny your physical state, please remember that you do not have to dwell in that state mentally. Even if the world (or your world) is falling apart around you, you can remain confident in God and who He is by changing your mindset through forcing yourself to remember all of the blessings that God has bestowed on you. Paul did it when he was in a Roman prison for simply preaching the Gospel. Instead of moping and complaining, he was writing letters telling other believers to “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, Rejoice!” No matter how dark and dim your situation is, take the advice of the psalmist and count your blessings. You will find much that you can rejoice about.

The Hymn writer put it this way:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you briefly how you can be saved from your sins and be guaranteed a home in Heaven with God today.

First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.

But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.

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