The Bible’s wisdom and instruction is sufficient for every circumstance that troubles man. It is the instruction manual for righteous living given to us by our Creator. The Bible along with the Holy Spirit are all that we need to live a life pleasing and glorifying to God.
God created us in His image, and God’s emotions are revealed in the Scriptures (Genesis 6:6, Mark 1:41&3:5, Ephesians 4:30); therefore, God created us as emotional beings. But because of the fall, sin has corrupted our whole being including our emotions. Therefore, like a computer with a defective motherboard, we are unable to consistently understand and control the emotions that are triggered by people and events in our lives (Genesis 4:5b, Jeremiah 17:9, Ephesians 4:22). However God is never surprised or overcome by His emotions. He never allows His emotions to impact His perfect plan. But we do.
The Bible is replete with stories and verses relating to overwhelming sadness and despair (what we today would call depression). This is not a new phenomenon. Many before us have suffered in this emotional state. And the Bible gives us the instructions as to how to find our way out.
Take Psalm 77 for example. In verses 1-9 we quickly understand the pain and heaviness that Asaph is experiencing.
- “I cry aloud to God”
- “My soul refuses to be comforted”
- “When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate my spirit faints”
- “I am so troubled that I cannot speak”
- “Will the Lord spurn forever?”
- “Has God forgotten to be gracious?”
- “Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”
The psalmist does not explain the cause of his despair, but he was definitely locked into gloom. When he thought about God, it only caused him to complain bitterly.
When we look at the end of chapter 15 into the beginning of chapter 16 of Exodus we see some of the same emotional turmoil as is being expressed in the beginnings of Psalm 77. The Israelites are tired, confused, and drained. Things seem to be getting worse, not better. Obtaining the most basic needs have become a chore.
In both these instances we see a focus on self which produces doubt; a doubting of God’s word, a doubting of God’s character, a doubting of God’s promises. These doubts are from Satan and they are a dangerous ploy to lead us into temptation (see Genesis 3:1-5). The Israelites continue moving into this doubt for 40 years causing them to miss out on the promises and blessings of God.
Moving back to Psalm 77 verse 10 we see that this is the pivotal verse which keeps Asaph from floundering in his doubt and depression.
“Then I said, ‘I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.’”
Asaph commits himself to focusing on God’s goodness and past acts of deliverance, and because of this his lament then changes into a hymn of praise. He speaks aloud and begins to remember the times when God used His right hand (power) to strengthen and protect him. This small act of the will is the catapult which delivers Asaph out of his depression. God gave both Asaph and the Israelites the free will to choose Him or to choose themselves. They each chose differently and reaped what they sowed.
The lesson is this:
- Blessing only comes from the doing – knowing what to do is not enough (Luke 11:27-28, John 13:17, James 1:22-25, Revelation 1:3)
- Good days flow from obedience not desire (Genesis 4:3-7, Psalm 34, 1 Peter 3:8-12)
Today if you are hurting and overwhelmed with emotional pain God understands and wants to help you, not condemn you. You can access the gift of faith that God has given you by putting off your feelings and putting on God-awareness – remembering who He is, what He has done, and what He promises to do. This is done through the reading of His Bible, and recollection of why and how God has moved in and throughout your life in the past.
Suggested questions to contemplate:
- What “Red Sea” moments has God made to happen in your life previously?
- How has God delivered you from other instances that seemed scary, overwhelming, or dark?
- What gifts and blessings has God bestowed upon you in the forms of resources and people?
- What difference does the Gospel make in your current situation?
Suggested verses to read:
1 Chronicles 16:12, Psalm 103, Psalm 111:2-5, Romans 8:28-39, Ephesians 3:14-21, 2 Peter 1:3-8
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© 2016 Michael Martin