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Sep 06, 2020

Three Actions that Help to Encourage You When You Feel Depressed

Passage: Psalms

Preacher: Mario Arindaeng

Series: Summer Playlist

Detail:

I would encourage you to turn to Psalm 42 as we finish our Summer Playlist this morning. When God created us, He gave us the unique ability to have emotions, didn’t He? We all know what it’s like to feel happy. We know what it’s like to feel sad. We know what it’s like to feel angry or afraid. We know what it’s like to feel excited. But one of the emotions we have often felt at some time or another—maybe some of you are even feeling it this morning—is the feeling of being depressed or having a down spirit. Have you felt depressed in recent months? What did you do to pull out of that depression? Or maybe you haven’t pulled out of it just yet.

I’ve heard from several educators that when schools closed, there was an increase in depression in the students across our country. I know of one young student who, when she found out schools were closed, got on her computer and typed an email to one of her friends. I think what she wrote clearly pictures what depression feels like. She said, “I feel like a see-through empty jar with darkness all around me. I miss school.”

This morning I want to share with you three actions to help encourage you when you feel depressed. Turn in your Bible to Psalm 42:

1 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
    and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
    a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
    therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
    from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
    my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

Consider the cause of your depressed spirit 

The first action to help encourage you when you feel depressed is to consider the cause of your depressed spirit. The psalmist shares that he has a depressed spirit. As you see in verse five, he says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?..” In verse six he says, “My soul is cast down within me...” Verse 11 is a repetition of verse five, so it’s probably like the chorus of a song which we repeat.

We see two expressions here that really tell the condition of his spirit. We first see the words “cast down.” This means to be bowed down in the sense of walking in a stooped posture. It’s like someone who’s walking with their head and shoulders down. You’ve probably seen someone walking like that. That’s the idea behind the phrase “cast down.”

But there’s another important word here— “turmoil.” Not only is the psalmist cast down, but his heart is in turmoil. There’s a restlessness in his heart. Turmoil means to cry out, making a loud noise; to be turbulent. I think we’ve all had times in our lives when we’ve had a down spirit and feel alone, but there’s also a rumbling turmoil in our heart.

To understand why this psalmist is depressed, we have to look at the rich biblical background behind this Psalm. We read in the introduction that this Psalm is a Maskil which is probably a musical or liturgical term, something to either be sung or read in the temple. The author of Psalm 42 wrote to the choirmaster, a son of Korah. We don’t know who the author is of Psalm 42. It could have been King David himself. It could have been a different son of Korah. We’re not sure, but we know that the psalmist was inspired by God to write this Psalm in a state of feeling down.

“Son of Korah” means a distant descendent of Korah. It’s not his immediate son, because Korah lived several hundred years before that in the time of Moses. At the very earliest, if it was King David, it would be during the time King David reigned which was several hundred years after Moses. Korah was a Levite. Now the Levites were the only tribe in Israel that was given the responsibility to take care of the tabernacle. The tabernacle was a tent of meeting that the Israelites carried through the desert for 40 years of wandering. The Levites were the only ones who could carry it. They were the only ones who could set up the tent and do all the work around the tent, including the sacrifices. They were also the only ones later on when Solomon built the temple who could do the work around the temple.

Korah was a Levite, but he also led a rebellion against Moses. He didn’t like the fact that Moses was in authority. Because of Korah’s rebellion that we read about in Numbers, God opened the earth and consumed him. Korah’s descendants continued to remain faithful to the Lord and they continued to serve God in both the tabernacle and the temple. When David reigned over Israel, he appointed specifically this clan of Korah to serve as choir leaders. They continued to be musicians at the temple after David’s son Solomon built it, where God was worshiped for hundreds of years.

In verse four we see how the author of this Psalm helped lead the people of Israel in procession to the house of God in Jerusalem during the Jewish festivals. It says, “How I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.”

I think we can all imagine times when we’ve been singing from the bottom of our hearts, just enjoying worship. We know what it’s like to be in the presence of God as we worship. That’s what the psalmist is saying. “I remember that time when I’m going to the temple, just enjoying the time, but that’s not true today. Today I’m very far from Jerusalem.”

In fact, he was about 120 miles north of Jerusalem. It says in the text that he’s in Mount Hermon and Mount Mizar. Mount Hermon is the largest mountain in Israel and the source of the Jordan River. Verse six says, “…from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.”  Mount Mizar is a smaller mountain next to Mount Hermon. He talks about the depth of his depression in verse seven: “Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.”  

When I was in seminary, one of the last classes I was able to go through was a trip to Israel. Who wouldn’t want to go on a trip to Israel for a seminary class? In that class we were able to travel to Mount Hermon. As we went there, I was able to see what the psalmist was talking about. All along the side of Mount Hermon were streams of water pouring down. In some parts of Mount Hermon there were waterfalls. I can just imagine the psalmist as he’s writing this Psalm picturing some of these waterfalls, saying, “This feeling of depression is like wave after wave of water pouring over me.” I think some of us understand what that feels like. When something is heavy on our hearts, it’s like waves of water washing over us. “Lord, please help me in my situation. Deliver me from this downward spiral.”

Not only is the psalmist in exile, as we see in this chapter, but he’s being persecuted for his faith in God. We see this in verses three, nine and ten. He has publicly made known his love for and allegiance to God. Verse three says, “They say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’”  Then in verses nine and ten he says, “Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’”

He’s tormented both physically—“as with a deadly wound in my bones…”—and emotionally so he’s saying, “…my adversaries taunt me…”   We see because of his circumstances of being in exile, far from the temple, and the fact that he’s being mocked for his faith in God, that he is depressed in his spirit.

As I mentioned earlier, there has been an increased downward and depressed spirit in recent days because of our current pandemic. Many of you have experienced this over the past few months. Even if we weren’t in a pandemic, I think we all face times when we feel down or depressed in life. In order to get to the road of encouragement, we need to consider the cause of our depressed spirits.

Have you ever woken up one morning, then all of a sudden you had a new pain in your body and you just didn’t know where it came from? You think, “Oh, it’s just going to go away in a couple days,” but it doesn’t? Back in February I was walking near my house and stepped on something that hurt the bottom of my foot. As I continued walking, it was painful but I thought, “This will go away after a couple days.” Well, it didn’t go away after a couple days. For those who know me and who were around me then, I was limping for a couple weeks. I realized something more was going on. I needed to consider the cause of the pain in my foot, so I made an appointment with the foot doctor. He took x-rays, examined my foot and discovered the cause of my pain. He diagnosed my problem as plantar fasciitis. You may have had this problem. It’s an inflammation of the main ligament on the bottom of your foot up through the heel. Once I knew the cause of my pain, I was able to figure out the proper treatment.

In the same way, some of you may feel depressed. You’re limping along emotionally in life and have never taken time to understand the cause of your depression. What could the cause be? Maybe it’s sin in your life. Sin will bring depression. In Psalm 42, we don’t see any indication that the psalmist is dealing with a sin issue. But for you, if your depression is being caused by sin in your life, I want to encourage you to confess your sin to Jesus—to repent, to turn from your sin and turn back to Him.

For others, your depressed spirit may be caused by the sin of others. That’s probably what’s happening with the psalmist. It’s because of the sin of Israel that he finds himself exiled from Jerusalem. Or maybe it’s just your circumstances that are causing your depressed spirit. Maybe it’s health concerns, financial burdens or a relational strain.

I want to ask if are you feeling down and depressed this morning? Take time to consider the cause of your depressed spirit. Take some time after church today and get alone with God. Ask, “God, what’s going on in my heart? Why am I feeling down? Why am I depressed?” It might be too that you need others to help you with this. Perhaps you can find a trusted family member, friend or church leader and ask them, “Hey, can you help me consider the cause of my depressed spirit?”

The first action to help encourage you when you feel depressed is to consider the cause of your depression.

Crave after God’s presence 

The second action to help encourage you when you feel depressed is to crave after God’s presence. We see this in Psalm 42:1-2: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”

Do you see at the end of verse two that little word “before”? In Hebrew that word really means face to face with God. He said, “I want to appear face to face with God, to be in the presence of God.” Like a deer craves after water in times of drought, the author of this Psalm craves after God’s presence. Water sustains the life of a deer; God’s presence sustains the life of your soul. Remember that God created you for a relationship with Him.

When God created each one of us, He placed in each of us a God-sized hole that only He can fill and only He can satisfy. But we are all guilty of trying to fill that God-sized hole with our possessions, or maybe with people, or maybe with positions in life. God is the only One Who can fill that hole in our lives.

When we were first quarantined and were not able to come to church, we were blessed with on-line services. They were a huge blessing so we could worship with our families. But when we were first able to come back on Sunday nights and then Sunday mornings, I heard from so many of you how you just craved coming together with God’s people in corporate worship and how you really enjoy these times together.

Now, if you’re going to find any encouragement when you feel depressed, you have to crave the presence of God. Here’s the thing about craving. It’s a feeling, isn’t it? It’s a desire. We go through all kinds of feelings during the day and if we’re honest, we don’t always crave the presence of God, do we? We don’t always crave being in God’s Word. When you first wake up in the morning, maybe you just want to sleep in a little more. Or some Sunday mornings, maybe you just don’t have a desire to go to church. How do you get this craving? If the psalmist craves after the presence of God, how do we get that? We get lured away by other worldly things.

Let me tell you how this psalmist gained his desire for the presence of God. He thought back about the times when he was leading the procession as they were going to God’s house to worship, remembering how great those times were. “I was just singing my heart out to the Lord and experiencing His presence in a time of worship.”

For you as a believer, I want you to think back over your life. Were there times when you remember having sweet fellowship, when you experienced His presence and just knew beyond a shadow of doubt that God showed up in some incredible ways.

Earlier this summer I got a text from the band teacher at Kaneland High School, Aaron Puckett. He leads Student Impact along with me at the campus ministry at Kaneland High School. He said, “Hey, Mario, I was wondering if you’d be interested in joining me for a prayer walk around the Kaneland High School campus.” I said, “Sure, I’d love that.” So I met him at the high school and we spent a couple hours together that first time, praying around the high school. We enjoyed it so much we said, “Let’s do this next week.” We kept doing it week after week and it became one of the highlights of my week.

What’s really cool is that as we got into August and some of the teachers started coming in, one of the teachers was getting out of his car and saw us walking. He asked what we were doing, so we told him we were praying for the school. He said, “Do you mind if I join you?” We said, “No, that would be great.” Now that school has started, we decided we would just start a prayer meeting for faculty at the high school. So we’re meeting on Wednesday mornings at 6:30 at Kaneland High School and we’re now up to four people; I know others are interested. It’s cool because it’s a very organic thing that God is doing.

When I think about the presence of God, I think about these times when I’ve been praying with these faculty members at Kaneland. Do you have a time like that, or times like that, when you can remember God’s presence in your life? Maybe you can’t. But if you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, I want to take you to one place where all of us can think back to the presence of God in our lives. I want you to think about the moment you first gave your life to Jesus as your Savior and Lord. Do you remember that time when you understood that you were helpless and hopeless in your sin, realizing there was absolutely nothing you could do about it? Then you heard that Jesus came and died on the cross for your sins and that He rose from the dead, so you surrendered your life to Him. Do you remember what that feeling was like and how that changed your life?

Even the psalmist here refers to God as “my salvation” at the end of verse five. Of course this Psalm was written before Jesus came to the earth, so he didn’t know Who Jesus was. But the psalmist had confidence that God was going to be his salvation and deliver him from his circumstances.

Remember that inexpressible joy you felt when you came to Christ. I remember what it was like for me. When I was in early high school, we started going to this large church. I went there all through high school. During the first three years of high school, I went to Sunday School and then to the church service. I would sit there, but I really didn’t understand what the pastors were so excited about. I just didn’t get it. Maybe some of you teenagers feel like I felt or even some of you adults.

Then one Sunday before my senior year in high school, I was invited by a student to the Wednesday night youth group. Because it was a large church, for some reason I didn’t really know about Wednesday night youth group. No one had told me about it. For three years I went to that church and didn’t get invited to youth group. I thought, “You know what? It won’t hurt. I’ll show up to youth group and if I don’t like it, I won’t show up again.”

I went that Wednesday night and started making some friends. I enjoyed going and realized there was something different about those teenagers around me. They really experienced the presence of Jesus in their lives and that’s what I wanted. Then God did a work in my heart; you couldn’t keep me away from church. Not only on Wednesday nights, but I’d go Sunday mornings—Sunday School and Sunday worship service. Then Sunday nights, we went to a Baptist church where they had Sunday night services with a totally different sermon. I was the only one in my family who went, so I drove there by myself. Then on Thursday nights I found a Campus Life group in our area, so I went there as well. I was going to church four times a week, because I craved to be in the presence of God.

I don’t know what it’s like for you, but do you remember that moment when you first gave your life to Jesus? In a crowd this size, there are probably some here who have  never experienced a life-transforming relationship with Jesus. Maybe you’ve been a person who has come to church week after week, month after month, year after year, but you’ve never truly surrendered your life to Jesus. I don’t want you to leave here this morning without first knowing that He wants that relationship with you and that you can have His presence and that relationship in your life. I want to share with you the best news you could ever hear—the gospel. The word gospel means good news and that’s exactly what it is. God created you specifically for a relationship with Him. When He created you, He put inside you a God-sized hole that only He can fill. But God is holy and perfect, so He can’t fill that hole unless you are without sin. The problem is we all have sin and our sin separates us from Him. No amount of good works can erase that sin. No matter how hard we try, we can’t erase the sin in our lives. But 2,000 years ago Jesus Christ, Who was fully God and fully man, came to earth and lived a perfect life. He then died on the cross for your sins, then three days later He rose from the dead.

The Bible is really clear that if you repent of your sins and put your trust in Jesus alone, He will forgive your sins. He’ll wash away your sins, filling that God-sized hole in your life and giving you eternal life. That eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts today and then lasts forever. If you’ve never, ever surrendered your life to Jesus, don’t leave today without giving your life to Him. If you have questions, talk to somebody around you. They’ll be happy to answer your questions.

I want to ask each of you this morning if can you say like the psalmist that you crave God’s presence.

Center your thoughts on God’s goodness  

So far we’ve talked about two actions that help encourage you when you feel depressed. Action number one is consider the cause of your depressed spirit. The second action is to crave after God’s presence. But we can’t end there. The third action, if we’re going to be encouraged and find help when we have a depressed spirit is to center our thoughts on God’s goodness.

This is exactly what the psalmist does. Psalms 42 and 43 are two Psalms that can actually be sung together, even though they’re separated in our Bibles. We can see that verses five and eleven of Psalm 42 and verse five in Psalm 43 contain the exact same words, as if this is a chorus in a song. In these verses, the psalmist is counseling himself to put his hope in God. “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him.”  This is not an uncertain hope, like he’s hoping for the best but isn’t sure if God is going to come through. This is an absolute secure hope that God is going to come through. It’s a confident hope in God.

Why does he have this hope? Even in this Psalm, we see four ways he centers his thoughts on God’s goodness. First, he says, “My salvation” in verse five. He’s realizing that one day God will deliver him from his current situation. If we look a little deeper, we’ll learn the word “salvation” in Hebrew is the word yeshuw’ah. Yeshuw’ah is the shortened version of the word Yehowshu’a. This is the name Joshua in the Bible, which is also the name Jesus. We also sing, “Praise the name of Jesus,” but do you know what the name Jesus means? It means “the Lord saves.” How awesome and mighty is the name of Jesus. Think about that. We can put hope in God because of Yeshuw’ah—Jesus, “the Lord saves.”

The second reason we see why the psalmist puts his hope in God is because he understands God’s steadfast love. In verse eight we see, “By day the Lord commands his steadfast love....” In Hebrew, this is the checed love of God, which is His covenant-keeping love. It’s not merely an emotion or a feeling; it’s a love that involves an action on behalf of someone who is in need. It’s God’s unconditional, loyal love for you and me. It’s His faithfulness to us which is not based on whether we’re good or bad. His love for us is unconditional.

In the context of this passage, God is going to show His lovingkindness to the psalmist. He knows God is going to deliver him from his enemies and his troubles. But this checed love, this lovingkindness of God, doesn’t just refer to deliverance from men. It also refers to redeeming us from sin. It’s about giving us eternal spiritual life. It’s about the kindness of God that is abundant, great in extent, everlasting and altogether good. Because of God’s steadfast love, the psalmist is able to focus his thoughts on God throughout the day.

Do you know what’s really neat? When he lays his head down at night, he can sleep. Have you ever had those nights when you just couldn’t sleep because you were anxious and worried? The psalmist is able to sleep because, as he says in verse eight, “…at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” He’s able to sing a song to God at night because he’s focused on the goodness of God’s love in his life.

I have three daughters between the ages of eight and 14. If any of you have daughters, you’ve probably experienced this. My daughters love to sing at random times around the house. Sometimes I’ll walk past the bedroom and hear them singing. Any time they grab a happy thought, they’ll start belting out a song. Or sometimes they’ll just be walking around the house singing.

As he laid down his head at night, the psalmist was able to center his thoughts on God and could sing a song in his heart to the Lord. As believers in Jesus, we can center our thoughts on the goodness of God too, can’t we? We can sing songs in our hearts when we lay our heads down at night.

I love what Romans 8:35-39 says about God’s love:

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Because of His love, you can sing this song in your hearts when you lay your head down at night.

Not only does the psalmist talk about God being his salvation, not only does he focus on the steadfast love of God, but in verse nine he calls God his rock. He says, “I say to God, my rock…”  When you see the word “rock,” it means God’s protecting care in his life. It’s a symbol of security that God is our fortress.

Back in Israel, if you were to take refuge from an enemy that was pursuing you, you would run to the mountains and find a bunch of rocky places, because that’s where you would find refuge from your enemy. We see this in the Bible before David was king and Saul was still on the throne and when David flees to the mountains where he finds refuge in the rocky places. Not only do we see the psalmist finding hope in his salvation, in God’s love and in God being his rock, but also he talks about God being “my God” in verse six.

The book of Psalms is divided into five sections. The first Book goes from chapters one through 41. Psalm 42, where we are today, begins Book Two. Book One of Psalms focuses more exclusively on the name Yahweh. It’s present 272 times in Book One. But there’s also another name we use for God, the name Elohim. This is only seen 15 times in those first 41 chapters of Psalms. But when we get to Book Two, which goes from Psalm 42 to Psalm 72, the emphasis is more on the name Elohim, which it’s seen 164 times, as opposed to Yahweh 30 times. What is the difference between these two names for God, between Yahweh and Elohim?

To understand this, we need to go back to Genesis 1 where God’s name is exclusively Elohim. Then in Genesis 2:4, when God starts creating man, we find the compound name of God—Yahweh Elohim. Elohim is the general name for God, speaking of God as Creator, as transcendent, all-powerful and majestic. As He’s creating the earth, God is Elohim, all-powerful and almighty. Then when we see the name Yahweh in Genesis 2:4 where He’s creating man, this speaks of God as personal. He’s creating Adam and Eve and He wants an intimate relationship with them. When you see in your Bible the word Lord written with all capital letters, that means the Hebrew name is Yahweh, the personal God. He’s the one true God Whom we worship. As a side note, when you see “Lord” written with lower case letters, it’s the name Adonai which means master. I encourage you to take time to study the names of God. That way you’ll have a better grasp of His goodness in your life.

When the psalmist is talking about “my God” —Elohim—he’s saying, “He’s all powerful and majestic. Even though I have my own situation and a depressed spirit, God, You are bigger than that.” I also want you to notice the possessive word “my” when he says, “my salvation…my rock…my God.” He’s saying, “God, You are mine and I have a real relationship with You.”

A number of years ago someone asked me, “What is the first thing you think about when you think about your dad?” Well, I remembered a soccer game in my senior year of high school. It was one of those late fall days when it was cold and miserable, the kind of day when the rain hits you and goes right to your bones. You don’t want to be outside at all. I had a soccer game that day, but it was really too cold to be playing soccer.

I was playing the position I normally played which was bench warmer, because most of the people on the team were better players than I was. But as I was sitting on the bench, I remember looking up in the bleachers. There was just one person in the stand on that day—a day when nobody should have been out here—and it was my dad. He was supporting me and cheering me on. Even if I never got in the game, he did that for me.

Isn’t that what God is like for us? We go through life and often find ourselves with a downward or depressed spirit. But do you know that God is in the stands, cheering you on and supporting you, even if nobody else is? Even if you don’t ever get in the game, He’s there for you. That is the goodness of God in your life, isn’t it?

I want you to remember that God loves you unconditionally, whether you play in the game or not. He’s your salvation. He’s your rock. He’s your God. The next time you feel depressed, remember these three actions to help encourage you. Consider the cause of your depressed spirit, crave after God’s presence and center your thoughts on God’s goodness.

 


Village Bible Church  |  847 North State Route 47, Sugar Grove, IL 60554  |  (630) 466-7198  |  www.villagebible.org/sugar-grove

All Scriptures quoted directly from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

Note: This transcription has been provided by Sermon Transcribers (www.sermontranscribers.com).