Christians in Despair and Depression, Part 4 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #44)

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

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 4 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #44)

So far, in this series on handling despair and depression, we have discussed two things that will help us as Christians. (1) Crying out to God in prayer, (2) Changing the way we think by remembering and focusing on past blessings rather than current difficulties. These are two steps that would have been useful to the pilgrims, Christian and Hopeful, as they sat in the dungeon of Giant Despair. Instead, they let doubt and disbelief cloud their minds — even to the point where they considered the Giant’s advice that they should commit suicide in order to be delivered from their imprisonment.

John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, wrote once that even he was not immune from feelings of despondency. He said the devil would come to him and tell him, “You have no part nor lot in this Jesus, you have but put him away from you, you have said in your heart, ‘Let him go if he will.’ Now, therefore, you are severed from him; you have severed yourself from him. Behold, then, his goodness, but yourself shall be no partaker of it.” The devil would try to discourage John Bunyan by telling him that he was cut off from God.

In his commentary on Pilgrim’s Progress, Dr. Barry Horner states: “For the pilgrims [in the dungeon], there appears not to be the slightest glimmer of a hope. Nor do they at this stage even think to look to He who is their only hope… The terror of this scene is not the confining circumstances so much as the prisoners’ belief that they are beyond the reach of grace. They believe that God has deserted them.”

Perhaps you have felt the sting of being deserted by people whom you thought would have your back. But have you ever struggled with the feeling of being deserted by God Almighty? Our Lord did. On the cross, He suffered through the agony of being separated from His Father as He bore the sins of the world. But He suffered that agony in order to make it possible for us not to ever face being separated from God.

Please understand that no matter how you feel, God has never abandoned you. If you are His child, He has given you this promise: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” So, what is another way in which we can combat these false feelings of abandonment, depression, and despair? As we look at our passage, we notice that the Psalmist combatted such feelings with worship. He said, “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people. Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.”

The Psalmist is speaking of the greatness of God. He is magnifying God’s might and power. When our problems overwhelm us, we must remember that God is more powerful than our problems. Worship is not the natural instinct of most people — certainly not a person struggling with depression. Most of us do not think of worship until we get into church on Sunday morning. But worship is something we should do every day. One of the benefits of worship is that we remind ourselves of the greatness of our God. Like Asaph, we ought to ask ourselves, “Who is so great a God as our God?” We need to be reminded that we serve an awesome, all-powerful God who is far greater than any bout of depression or despair.

Worship is also an act of remembrance. We worship God not just for who He is, but for what He has done. Look at the many things the Psalmist remembers, not just from his own life, but from the history of the people of Israel. He recalls God’s deliverance of the children of Israel out of Egypt, the opening of the Red Sea so that the people could pass through on dry land, and God’s guidance of the children of Israel through the wilderness. Yes, he is worshipping God, but he is also encouraging himself by thinking on all that the Lord has done.

You, too, ought to think on what God has done not just for you, but for others. This is why church attendance is important. In church, we are reminded through song, through the reading of the Word, through the testimony of others, and through preaching of who God is and what He has done. We are reminded that God is greater than our problems.

In her book “Darkness is My Only Companion”, Kathryn Greene-McCreight, who struggled with depression and bipolar disorder for ten years, wrote about the importance of being around other believers. She said, “It is so important to worship in community — to ask your brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for you. Sometimes you literally cannot make it on your own, and you need to borrow from the faith of those around you. Companionship in the Lord Jesus is powerful.”

Everything that we have talked about in this series will help dispel the darkness and gloom of depression and despair. You can get through whatever you are going through. Millions of others have done so by calling out to God in prayer, by choosing to think about and remember the blessings of the past, and by focusing on the glory, might, and power of God rather than their problems.

In the end of his psalm, the writer focuses on how God saved the people of Israel. Numerous times throughout their nation’s history, things were dark and dim for the Jews. They were enslaved for over 400 years. They were trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army. They faced starvation in the wilderness. But each time, God delivered them. God can and will deliver you as well. Don’t let the devil deceive you into thinking that God has abandoned you, that He is not there. If that thought occurs to you, you know it is a lie. In the midst of your depression and despair, “Build your hopes on things eternal, Hold to God’s unchanging hand.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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 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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