08/25/2014 “Praise will confuse the enemy!”

Psalm 42: 1-7 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One[d] with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.

Depression (as defined by Merriam-Webster): “a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way.”

This is not a happy passage.  Some might even say it is fitting for a “blue” Monday.  Clearly the author is in a state of depression.  We have heard a lot lately about depression with the untimely passing of comedian Robin Williams apparently by his own hand.  No one is immune from it, not even those that seem to have everything they could ever want.  Some of us appear to cope better, but we have all had to deal with issues that seem insurmountable, hopeless.  Where is GOD?  We can’t feel his presence, we began to fear, doubt.  Negativity and depression feed on themselves and the longer we stay there the deeper it gets.  I’m not sure what you were feeling when you began to read the blog this morning but I would be willing to bet you’re a little down right now, just from reading about depression.   How powerful is that!

I submit there are reasons why we all have bouts with depression.   We live life in a state of constant conflict.   Consider Job 14:1-2 “Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble. They spring up like flowers and wither away; like fleeting shadows, they do not endure.   That’s life summed up in just two very short verses.   If you are reading this, it is highly likely one day these very words will be spoken at some point at your own funeral, as they have at hundreds of thousands of other funerals for a great many years.

But let’s also consider Ecclesiastes 3:11.   Here we are told that GOD has set eternity in the human heart.   We have been designed to be forever, yet we live in an environment that is counter to what we have in our hearts.  Everything around us is in a state of decay yet deep inside we struggle with the question of whether we too may be just temporary.  For the optimist, this is good news because that means whatever trouble I’m going through now won’t last forever.  For the pessimist, it is indeed depressing because it means that no matter how good things are happiness is just not sustainable.  It too is only temporary.

So what do we do?   How do we disrupt the cycle of conflict.   The answer is embedded in the passage, surrounded by so much pain.

These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.

 …Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

For those of us who believe, no matter what we face, we must face it with eternal hearts!  That means as Pastor has said many times we must ACT like we are built for eternity even when we just ain’t feeling it.  We need to get up and get out of that dark place emotionally, mentally, and physically.  According to the passage we need to be in praise and worship.  As the songwriter says, “praise will confuse the enemy.”   We also need to be with those who are doing the same.  We should not be alone.  Depression metastasizes in loneliness.   We need to practice eternity to escape that which is only temporary.   The more we practice, the more instinctive it will become for us to automatically give praise and worship to our GOD when faced with depression.  The more we practice the easier and more natural it becomes to move away from the darkness and live according to GOD’s plan for us, which we know is an eternal plan.

ALMIGHTY GOD of the universe, we come to you this Monday morning with many troubles and burdens and so very much at risk to slip into depression.  Give us the courage to left our eyes and voices in praise and worship to YOU.  Reassure us great LORD of your magnificent plans for us.  Remind us of just how truly blessed we are and that no matter what is happening now, eternity is in our future.  In CHRIST name we pray, amen!

Jim L