Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ummm...can you say "depressed"?

11 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues?
   Fix my eyes on God—soon I'll be praising again.
   He puts a smile on my face.  He's my God.
(Psalm 42:11)

There are a variety of psalms written by David that carry almost the same theme of desperation - intense desire to see God intervene in his life, some tragedy making his life almost unbearable, some sin keeping him out of fellowship with his creator.  This one has some "meat" to it that I'd like to explore this morning. David is lamenting over his circumstances - over his downtrodden disposition.  In other words, he is pretty well down-in-the-mouth - depressed beyond measure.  He is mourning over something or someone - the impression is that he has lost out on something in his life and he is in a deep, deep depression as a result.

He begins with the idea of being thirsty.  He desires to drink God in afresh.  Have you ever been so thirsty that you just guzzle down the fluids?  In Arizona, one of the dangers of working outdoors in the heat is that you get dehydrated quite easily.  You just plug along with your work without any real recognition of how much fluid you need to replace in order to keep up with your body's sweating.  If you don't replace it fast enough, and frequently enough, you end up with the condition we call "dehydration".  

Dehydration is a process of excessive loss!  That is what David has experienced - excessive loss - and it has left him feeling totally "parched" so that he desires nothing more than to drink in God afresh!  He has even had a change in his diet!  He states, "I am on a diet of tears - tears for breakfast, tears for supper!"  David is in a place of severe depression.  His sadness is greater than he can endure alone.  His loss is leading him to feel this prolonged "void" in his life - and it is tearing him up!  

As with most of us, when we are feeling particularly "lost" and like there is a huge "void" in our lives, we do some "recollection" of the past.  We call this rehearsing our memories.  That is exactly what David tells us that he does.  He says, "These things I go over and over, emptying out the pockets of my life."  The tendency to rehearse the things we have once been able to count on is not unusual.  We are people of "memories" - we count on our memories to sustain us in the hard times.  David says that his best memories are of those times when God central in his life - square in the middle, causing him to be at the head of the pack in giving praise and worship to his creator.

The key to David's lament in this chapter is really found in his revelation of what he does when he finds he is down in the dumps - when grief has overtaken him and his life seems to be circling the drain!  He says, "When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you!"  He focuses on all that he knows about his creator - rehearsing it over and over again.  The fact is, when we begin to rehearse what we know about God, we have a change of heart!  Our heart is affected by our thoughts - in turn, our emotional "affect" is changed!

David makes the admission that most of us have made at one point or another in our lives - "God, I think you've let me down!"  We ask the "why" questions.  Why did you let this happen?  Why do good people die?  Why does bad stuff happen to good people?  The list goes on.  In plain language, he admits to God that he equates his present situation to God letting him down.  The revelation he comes to in his rehearsal of all he knows about God is that God NEVER lets his kids down!

He gives us the anchor we need in the verses we consider today as our meditation verses.  "Fix your eyes on God - soon you'll be praising again!"  We may not praise out of a sense of joy for what we have gone through or experienced - but because of the faithfulness of our God to bring us through to the other side!  When we are fixed on God, we cannot drift further into our depression.  When he is our anchor, the circumstances may come, but we are held firmly in place!

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