Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 April 25, 2006

Title: The Prayer of a Depressed Saint

Scripture Reading: Psalm 13:1-6

 

Introduction:

 

The Psalms gives us a record of the life of God's people, Israel.

 

It tells us of their dealings with our heavenly Father and with other nations.

 

In the Psalms, we find great worship experiences in which praise is offered to God

 

But we also find sorrow and grief.

 

We find puzzling ques­tions and expressions of faith.

 

But we also find expressions of despair.

 

Psalm 13, for instance, presents the prayer of a man in deep depression.

 

I’ll bet that most, if not all of us are depressed from time-to-time.

 

Today, we know that depression may be the result of many different fac­tors.

 

Some people have a tendency toward depression because of heredity factors.  

 

For example, my mother fought depression late in life, especially after my father died.

 

When a spouse dies many people go through a period of depression.

 

Usually a person will come out of it, but sometimes they don’t.

 

I believe I may have inherited at least the tendency toward depression from my mother.

 

Today, my son, Mike, and my daughter Mary, take medication to ward off depression.

 

Where did they get the depression.

 

From me.

 

People also experience deep depression because of a chemical imbal­ance.

 

That’s my problem.

 

I take a medication called Welbutin, and it helps a lot.

 

My depression began when we moved to South Carolina, and I have figured out that it was caused by a couple of things.

 

First, my son refused to talk to me and our relationship ceased to exist for almost 5 years.

 

And second, Sierra and I didn’t have any medical assurance; we were having a hard time getting approval for disability, and I wasn’t sure that my insurance company would keep paying me.

 

Now, let me brag a little on the Lord.

 

He straightened it all out; I am talking with my son, Michael, again.

 

Sierra and I both have insurance.

 

I am still receiving a monthly check from the insurance company.

 

And I am receiving disability.

 

It is true, if you love and serve Jesus, God will bless you.

 

There’s another possible source for depression, and that’s mistreatment by someone near and dear.

 

Dr. Nicholi, who is a psychiatrist from Harvard, remarked that current studies reveal that American parents spend less time with their children than do parents in almost any other country.

 

It’s easy to see why that’s true.

 

In most American homes both parents work. 

 

We have a nation of latch-key kids, because they get home from school before their parents get home from work. 

 

Add to that, that there is only one parent in many homes. 

 

Moreover, Americans are so busy with work, hobbies, sports, and entertainment that they spend very little time with their children. 

 

They may say, “I make sure I spend QUALITY time with my kids.” 

 

But that’s not enough, children need to be with their parents more than they need things.

 

Children want all the time you can give them. 

 

When that doesn’t happen that’s abuse that leads to a depressed child.

 

James Dobson said, “Nothing can replace the precious commodity of time spent with your children.”

 

We may also experience depression because of a negative way of thinking.

 

Negative thinking says, “The glass is half empty;” whereas positive thinking says, “The glass is half full.” 

 

You’ve probably heard that old saying before. 

 

What it means is that it makes a big difference how you look at things.

 

Anyone that constantly thinks in negative terms develops a “woe is me” attitude. 

 

Depression is likely to enter the life of those who think negatively.

 

Did you know that studies have shown that at any given moment, up to 5 percent of the United States population is depressed?

 

That is a lot of people and every one of them find it hard to get along in the world, because they always feel down in the dumps.

 

There’s another cause for depression.

 

It’s often the result of weariness and physical collapse.

 

I should know all about this one, since it recently happened to me.

 

I had to give up some of my duties at church, and the devotions I was doing, before I began to feel better. 

 

I had taken on too much and it finally caught up with me. 

 

I was tired all the time, so tired that I began to think that I could not go on unless something changed.

 

Moreover, my depression was worse than ever.

 

I feel much better now that I have reduced my responsibilities; but the depression is still there, and I have to face it every day.

 

We’re not done yet, because there are some other causes for depression.

 

Some experience deep depression because of their utter helplessness.

 

Depression often accompanies illness.

 

Others experience depression as death approaches.

 

I heard cute story about a cat that died.

 

A mother tried to soften the blow of their family cat’s death by telling her young daughter, “Tabby is in heaven now.”

 

The little girl gave her mother a strange look then asked, “Why would God want a dead cat?”

 

The death of a loved one and our own approaching death is depressing for many, but for the Christian, death is only a door that leads to heaven and eternity.

 

I think that all of us experience some depression because of impa­tience.  

 

Waiting in the check-out line at the grocery store, standing in line at the driver’s license bureau, doctor’s waiting rooms, and long lines of slow moving traffic are only a few of the daily annoyances that cause feelings of impatience, which often triggers our depression. 

 

Not only is depression a problem with many Americans, it’s now affecting animals as well.

 

On January 5, 1999, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first antidepressant for dogs.

 

The drug, Clomicalm, is designed specifically for dogs to help them deal with separation anxiety.

 

Of the fifty-five million dogs in the United States, about 10 percent of them have this problem to some degree.

 

This drug is supposed to help calm dogs when they are left to themselves, by eliminating symptoms such as excessive barking, destructive chewing, clawing, and uncontrollable urination.

 

Specialists say dogs have a strong need to be around other animals or people, and if they are left too long by themselves they begin to engage in destructive behavior.

 

Clomicalm, at about $1 per pill, is being billed as a drug that will help dogs cope with the anxiety that can accompany aloneness.

 

Don’t you agree that when they start approving antidepressants for dogs it’s time to reevaluate how the researchers are spending their time?

 

The Lord’s discipline, although it is always deserved, is also a cause for depression.

 

Maybe this was the reason David was depressed and why he wrote this psalm.

 

There are only six verses. Listen closely as I read it to you—Psalm 13. 

 

1 How much longer will you forget me, Lord? For ever? How much longer will you hide yourself from me?
2 How long must I endure trouble? How long will sorrow fill my heart day and night? How long will my enemies triumph over me?
3 Look at me, O Lord my God, and answer me. Restore my strength; don’t let me die.
4 Don’t let my enemies say, “We have defeated him.” Don’t let them gloat over my downfall.
5 I rely on your constant love; I will be glad, because you will rescue me.
6 I will sing to you, O Lord, because you have been good to me.

 

It’s clear that this poem was a prayer of David written during a time of deep depression.

 

The poem begins with David asking the Lord a question, How much longer will you forget me, Lord?”  

 

What we have here is a prayer of David during a time when he was experiencing deep depression due to adverse circumstances.

 

Four times David asked, “How long?”

 

He had prayed, but David acknowledged that God had hidden Himself and He didn’t answer.

 

David had examined his heart and knew of no reason why God should abandon him.

 

“Adverse circumstances” doesn’t say enough about his predicament. 

 

He was being pursued aggressively by the enemy (probably Saul), and David wondered what was delaying the chariot of God.

 

Would help never come to free him from the terrible burdens that were crushing him? 

 

He felt as if God had forgotten him. 

 

Have you ever prayed to God when it seemed as if He had forgotten you? 

 

Does God really forget His children? 

 

The answer, of course is NO!

 

Although God cannot forget His own, frequently we feel as though we have been forgotten by Him.

 

The cause of David’s depression was three-fold. 

 

First, he considered himself cut off from the Lord’s favor. 

 

Second, Saul was relentless in his search for David and he wanted to see him dead. 

 

And third, he suffered the constant humiliation of being on the losing side. 

 

God must take notice of David’s plight and send help quickly, in order to avert two disasters.

 

The first would be David’s death and the second would be the jubilant boasting of his enemy.

 

Unless the Lord acted quickly to restore the sparkle to David’s eyes, they would soon be closed forever in death.

 

Unless Jehovah turned the tide, the enemies would soon be boasting that they had won, and that David was thoroughly trounced.

 

David’s depression was made worse by the length of the suffering he was experiencing.

 

Some say that Saul persecuted him for nine years and there was no sign that it would ever end. 

 

The longer God waited, the more the enemy would succeed.

 

David was so depressed that he experienced sorrow in his heart throughout the day. 

 

It never let up and so he began to question God. 

 

Why did the Lord allow it, and why did he suffer so greatly and his enemies prosper at the same time?

 

There was another reason he was depressed; it was because of the victory of his enemy over him. 

 

So far, in his struggle against Saul, he hadn’t tasted victory. 

 

He didn’t have the resources that he needed to win a battle. 

 

He was forced to run away and hide and to live off the land. 

 

He lived a life filled with stress, and so he was depressed.  

 

Today, many have experienced depression because of the victory of Satan over them. 

 

He is a powerful enemy of every believer and he would destroy us if he could. 

 

But he is held in check by God; he can’t harm us any more than God will allow.

 

It is very difficult to pray as we should when we’re in the depths of despair, and suffering the pains of depression.

 

Nevertheless, a person may need to pray a prayer of confession and ask for forgiveness.

 

The passage reveals that the psalmist continued to pray even in his despair.

 

David wrestled with many of the questions growing out of his depression. 

 

Would God be glorified by David’s defeat?

 

Would God’s cause be helped by David’s death?

 

Should the enemy rejoice while God’s people suffer?

 

David reasoned with God, but didn’t try to tell Him what to do.

 

Sometimes prayer means wrestling.

 

Notice that David’s prayer was confident and bold; “Look at me, O Lord my God, and answer me.”   

 

Through it all, David still refers to Jehovah as My God.

 

David will prevail against his enemy from his knees.

 

This prayer of David asks for nothing more than that the honor of God be acknowledged along with the deliverance of His servant.

 

Depression is something that comes to all of us from time-to-time.

 

And when it does, we need to study God's Word and recognize our relationship to him and continue to come before him as needy children.

 

In the book of Hebrews we are told, “Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). 

 

Nothing is hidden from God, for He knows all things.

 

To Him everything is “uncovered” or “laid bare”.

 

Yet believers are encouraged to approach God boldly because of their confidence in their High Priest—the Lord Jesus.

 

As High Priest, Jesus can sympathize with the weaknesses of His people.

 

He knows by experience all their trials and temptations.

 

And yet, He never failed or sinned.

 

Our confidence, as Christians, is based on the knowledge that He died to save us and that He lives to keep us saved.

 

We are assured of a warm welcome because He has told us to come to Him.

 

We can go into His presence by prayer, at any time of the day or night and obtain mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

 

His mercy covers the things we should not have done, and His grace empowers us to do what we should do, but don’t have the power to do.

 

When you have feelings of depression, do what David did and talk to God with an honest and humble heart. 

 

David is depressed; however, his faith can be seen in the words of the last two verses.

 

I rely on your constant love; I will be glad, because you will rescue me.  I will sing to you, O Lord, because you have been good to me.

 

David was able to continue to trust in the unwavering love of God.

 

Many times a person suffering depression finds it impossible to believe that God continues to love him or her.

 

The psalmist had faith to believe that he would yet rejoice in the great salvation of God.

 

Perhaps the psalmist had this assurance because he believed that God would forgive him and cleanse him.

 

Faith doesn’t always give answers, but it does give encouragement.

 

No matter how successful the enemy appears to be, you can trust the Lord, rejoice in the Lord, sing to the Lord, and know that He will always deal bountifully with you.

 

When you are on the Lord’s side there is no doubt as to the outcome.

 

The psalmist believes that the answer is on the way.

 

The psalmist decided to sing unto the Lord because he was confident that God would deal bountifully and graciously with him. 

 

“I will sing to you, O Lord, because you have been good to me” (v. 6).

 

By trusting in the mercy of the Lord, Paul knows that he will live to celebrate deliverance from his adversary.

 

In anticipation of this salvation, he can sing praises to the Lord for His boundless loving-kindness.

 

Conclusion

 

Depression in one form or another will be the experience of all of us, sometime in our lives.

 

Depression must be dealt with or a person will live a life of misery.

 

I want to tell you about an international health study that revealed some startling information about depression.

 

On September 15, 1996, the World Health Organization and the World Bank released their findings on the world’s greatest health problems.

 

Christopher Murray, professor of health economics at Harvard University, was the study’s chief author.

 

One of the most significant findings was their prediction that “major depression will become the second-leading cause of disability by the year 2020.”

 

Major depression was the fourth-leading cause of disability in 1990.

 

On October 10, 1996, the sixth annual National Depression Screening Day was held.

 

Dr. Douglas Jacobs, the Harvard psychiatrist who founded this program for free, annual screenings, said, “Over the last five years, we have screened two hundred thousand people. Seventy percent were ill and needed some kind of treatment.”

 

He pointed out that about seventeen million Americans agonize with this illness to varying degrees, and about thirty thousand take their own lives each year.

 

The perceived progress of society does not include diminishing depression.

 

Technological advancements cannot provide the peace that only comes through Jesus Christ.

 

God is good.

 

He loves us.

 

He works for good in everything that life brings to us, even depression. 

 

Romans 8:28 says, We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.”

 

It may not always seem so!

 

Sometimes when we are suffering from depression caused by heartbreak, tragedy, disappointment, frustration, or bereavement, we wonder what good can come out of it.

 

But whatever God permits to come into our lives is designed to conform us to the image of His Son.

 

When we see this, it takes the question mark out of our prayers.

 

Our lives are not controlled by impersonal forces such as chance, luck, or fate, but by our wonderful, personal Lord, who is “too loving" to be unkind and too wise to err.”

 

It may be that God won’t remove your depression; if that’s the case, I guarantee that He’ll give you the grace to live with it.

 

It’s in the Bible.

 

Amen.

 

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