January 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. Increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations. May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him. Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.” (Psalm 61:1-8 NIV)
I read this psalm when I was feeling my lowest. It had been a difficult week full of obligations, responsibilities, homework, and constant interaction. My introverted, exhausted self just couldn’t handle it any more. I holed myself up in my room on that Friday night (I had decided not to go to vespers) and cried. I cried at my exhaustion, my constant running around, my need for relaxation. But the Sabbath was approaching and I couldn’t just not read God’s Word because I was feeling down. In fact, I knew having my own personal Bible study would take me out of that slump.
So I Googled “bible studies for depression” (don’t worry, I’m not depressed; I just knew that that search would give me comforting passages) and found Psalm 61. I recognized and could directly relate to the first verse. It was my plea to God as I was in my room.
I read the Psalm 61 a few times and took down observations, interpreted them, and applied the interpretations to my present situation. From the chapter, I received three main points:
1. When we are distressed, the best thing for us to do is to go to God. Only He can truly help us, only He can give us the strength we need to get through a tough time, and only He will never fail us. He can lead us to himself, a higher, stronger Rock, Jesus. But because He is not tangible, we forget that here is there to help us. We forget that it is He who first loved us and who has our best interests in mind. Of course, we have friends and family who care and who are more than willing to help. And they can indeed be sent from God to help us, so there’s no reason to disregard their care or love. But only God can work with our distress and give us the hope that we need, whether it is directly or indirectly from him.
2. We mustn’t forget about God’s goodness in our times of distress. When we are in tough times, we may be tempted to doubt God’s strength and goodness, maybe even curse God because of the hard times we’re going through. But even in those difficult times, praise should come out of our mouths. Remember Job? God saw his faithfulness and allowed Satan to test Job. All these calamities befell on Job and yet he still praised God. So remember to praise him for his goodness and his protection in the past and for his coming blessings, even when you’re in the midst of your hardest times.
3. Long to be in God’s presence. We should of course hope to be with Him eternally and live our lives preparing for that. But long to be with him right now. For he is all around us right now. He longs to dwell with us, we need only let him in. He longs to shelter us in His wings, we need only allow Him to. Sometimes, just knowing God is near and that He cares can be the most comforting thing in the world. But sometimes, for me definitely, I don’t feel Him near me. I know He’s there, I remember that He said that He will always be near, but because I don’t feel or see something tangible, I get discouraged and I feel lonely. It’s in those times that I cry out to God and ask Him to hear my prayer because my heart is growing faint. And then God gives me peace and comfort, and I praise Him for that peace. And now each time I feel discouraged, I know God can hear me, and I don’t hesitate to call out to Him because I know He will answer. But probably the best way to not have those discouraging times at all is to rely on God always and to put Him first in everything.
As I was reading this Psalm, I was especially reminded of the illustration of the footsteps in the sand. It’s a well-known story in Christian circles. In a dream, a man sees footprints in the sand as he sees scenes from his life. He notices that during the good times in his life, he sees two pairs of feet walking in the sand, but during the trying times of life, he only sees one pair. In disbelief, the man asks Jesus, “Why is it that during the hardest times in my life, You left me alone?” And Jesus replies, “My child, I didn’t leave you during your hardest times. For it is in those times that I carried you.” And remembering the Jesus carries us during this difficult times, knowing that God is there for us throughout our trials is so encouraging, especially for me.
With the Psalm and the reminders it gave, I hope and pray that those depressing moments become fewer and further between.