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Friday, December 9, 2011

Misery, Despair, and Depression, Oh My!


 I'm feeling terrible—I couldn't feel worse!  Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember?  When I told my story, you responded; train me well in your deep wisdom.  Help me understand these things inside and out 
      so I can ponder your miracle-wonders. 
(Psalm 119:25-27 The Message)

I was watching a game show the other night with mom.  The introductions of the contestants included the regular demographics - where do you live, where do you work, what are your hobbies?  I have to say that I cringe each and every time I hear someone say, "I am an author.  I write self-help books."  I am so amazed that anyone could actually figure out how to help "self"!  In my own experience, I have observed that my "self" is pretty doggone unreliable and no amount of me helping "me" really "sticks"!!!

David opens this section with the cold, hard truth that he is miserable!  Have you ever been this honest with God?  Really just getting down to the nitty-gritty with him - telling him like it is - is probably one of the hardest things for some of us. We try to paint a rosy picture many times, instead of being as forthright as David finds himself being in this passage.  David lays it all out there - "I'm feeling terrible!  I couldn't feel worse!"  Let me tell you, David struggled with some pretty severe depression from what I can see recorded throughout this writings!  

He connects with God exactly where he is "at" - his feelings don't match what he wants to be doing!  He wants to be "up on his feet again" - feeling his oats - but his condition (feelings) betray his true condition of heart, soul, and spirit.  He is miserable - and his feelings of misery are coloring the way he sees life at that very moment.  Thank goodness for David's example - by studying what he did with his "feelings", we can learn what we are supposed to "do" with them.  We are to bring them to the one that actually created them!  He made us this way, so it stands to reason that he is the one that can help us get to a place of "standing strong" again!

Depression "gets us down" - we "feel" like we are under a load of bricks and we just cannot possibly get out from under them.  Try as we might, no amount of "self-help" is going to do it for us!  This kind of "misery" or "despair" is best left to the expert - God!  Here's what David did:

- He let his misery out before God.  He did not keep it bottled up, shoved into denial, or covered over with a false "mask" of "I'm okay".  Here is the beginning of hope for those in depression - getting it out in the open.  When we can finally begin to talk about what we are experiencing - that "ton of bricks" burden that is weighing us down - we can begin to connect with hope.  

- He reminds God of his promises.  David knew God's promises - he studied them, incorporating them into his life.  Now, in his despair, he recounts them to the one who made them!  David had the promise that "I will never leave you, nor forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6) - now he brings it into practice in his life.  He had the promise that "He is like a tree that is planted near a stream of water. It always bears its fruit at the right time. Its leaves don't dry up.      Everything godly people do turns out well" (Psalm 1:3) - he feels pretty "dry" right now and he calls upon God to bring the refreshing he so earnestly needs.

- He wants to understand what gets him to the place of misery he is in.  He asks God to help him not only understand the things that will bring him out of his despair, but what it is that can keep him out of it in the first place!  No amount of "self-help" will get us to the place of recognizing the root of our misery - that is a job best left to God.  He delights in showing us the "path" that got us into the pit because he didn't create us to "dwell" in the pit!

David is counting on God to turn the circumstances around in his life - getting him on his feet again.  This seems way to simple to one buried under a load of depression, but I can tell you this - the bricks in that pile are removed one at a time.  The master brick-layer is God - he has a use for each "BRICK" in our pile.  As we allow him to remove those weighty bricks of despair, misery, and depression, he will make something more beautiful from them than we might possibly imagine.  In my own times of depression, I have found this to be true.  God can make beauty from what I see as nothing more than ugliness!  It is in the one who "handles" the bricks that the beauty is evident!