David was a man of many moods. Really! Have you ever read through the Psalms? You cannot go through many without David swinging from outright depression and devastation to glorious praise, and then back again. Okay, perhaps the seeming mood swings are because of the order the psalms are in; nevertheless, there is a wide range of moods in the psalms.
Offhand, we might wonder what David would have to be depressed about. After all, he was just a kid when he had enough faith (and aim) to defeat Goliath. As a young man he was chosen to serve King Saul. He married the king’s daughter and was best friends with the king’s son, Jonathan. David had tremendous musical and poetic skills, and God chose him, the smallest and youngest of his brothers, to be king of Israel. Why would he be depressed? Whine on, harvest moon, as my friend used to say!
Each of us knows someone who is depressed or dissatisfied with his or her life and/or circumstances. When we look at the surface of their lives, we react as above, wondering what they have to be depressed or unhappy about. Like David, on the surface that woman seems to live a charmed life; that man seems to have it all. But we don’t know everything. As with David, if we look a little deeper, we might find the reasons for the deep agony in the individual. Even when he had it all, David knew that he had fallen short. And even when things had been going well, David knew the pain of fatherhood, when his sons didn’t get along and when it seemed God had turned away from the people of Israel.
Until we look deeper, into the Scriptures or into an individual’s life, we can never understand what that person is struggling with. We may tend to judge him or her, instead of offering a hand of kindness and a heart of compassion and concern. “I picked myself up, let him do the same.” “There’s no reason to be so upset. Just happy up!” By not looking past the obvious and not getting to the “heart” of the matter (pun intended), we practice judgmentalism and exclusivity. We fail to seek out healing for those who are struggling.
Driving home from Greenfield this past Sunday, I was struck by the change in the skies. The previous few days had been sunny and beautiful, with temperatures reaching into the 60s. Sunday afternoon, however, was overcast and cloudy. Immediately my thoughts went to Januarys past, when Christmas was no longer nipping at our heels but had been packed away once again, leaving our homes a little more stark, matching the winter skies.
In these days of recovery, whether from exorbitant Christmas spending or just from missing the extra sparkle of the Christmas season, you may find yourself, like David, asking God why, all of a sudden, things seem so bleak. You may wonder why it seems like everyone is against you and you can’t seem to get it all together. If that is the case, take heart, you are not alone. And if this is your experience, maybe looking at how David handled these feelings will help you, too. You see, even when David was at his lowest, whether being chased by Saul or running away from his own son Absalom, both of whom wanted to destroy David, he did two specific things:
First, David was honest with God about his feelings, and second, David remembered God. Why do we think God doesn’t understand what we are going through? Even more puzzling is that we think we can’t talk to God about our problems. Balderdash! If my child cannot talk to me about what is going on in his or her life, then I have not given that child confidence in my love. David knew God loved him. As a young man David wrote songs of praise to the great God whom he worshipped. Yet, when he experienced the pains and frustrations of adult life, and life as the King of Israel, he spoke to God about these things. These are but a few examples: “Be merciful to me, my God, for my enemies are in hot pursuit; all day long they press their attack. My adversaries pursue me all day long; in their pride many are attacking me (Psalm 56:1,2). “My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught because of what my enemy is saying, because of the threats of the wicked; for they bring down suffering on me and assail me in their anger” (Psalm 55:3). “I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’ (Psalm 42:9,10). David spoke to God about his sorrow, his frustrations, and his pain. He was open and “transparent” with God. People who say we should not question God must not have read the Psalms, because David repeatedly did so, and God did not judge him for it, either.
Second, David continually remembered that, in spite of the current circumstances, his God, who is above all, was just and would remember those who call on him. David reminded himself regularly of God’s compassion and care, even when things seemed differently. “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’ (Psalm 42:11). “The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him” (Psalm 37: 39,40).
These are but two of examples of David’s approach to faith. Whether he was struggling through the attacks of “politicians” in his court, if things were going bad because of his own failures and sin, or if the “chips” were down and it seemed life would never again be the same, David remembered God. He remembered God’s deliverance in days past, and he remembered that God had always been faithful in his life.
My friend, if you are literally sad these days, or if you are truly depressed, will you do this for me? Will you take time to talk to God about your feelings? Whether you are angry at others or at God, whether not understanding why things are happening or knowing exactly why things are happening, talk to God.
Second, take inventory of God’s faithfulness in your life; remember how God has been with you in the past. Read the Psalms and see how David met God in his times of joy and despair, and do likewise.
Finally, friends, if you really are depressed this winter season, and the above is not enough to help you, please consider speaking to a minister and/or a counselor about your feelings. There is no judgment in being depressed. Talk to someone about your feelings. Don’t suffer alone. There is hope, and there is help, both in God and in those whom God has gifted to assist you. Take the time to reach out and find hope and strength.
NOTE: The annual congregational meeting of Ebenezer Presbyterian Church will be held on Sunday, January 22, 2012, following worship. If you are a member of the church, please plan to be at this meeting as we consider some new directions for the church.
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church
P.O. Box 393
Greenfield, MO 65661