by Joe Alain

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Hope in the Hard Place of Depression (2 of 4)
Series: Hope in the Hard Places
Joe Alain
Psalm 42:1-11; 43:1-5

The dark night of the soul. That is the title of a poem written by the 16th century poet and Roman Catholic mystic Saint John of the Cross. It is used as a metaphor today to describe a phase in a person's spiritual life marked by a sense of loneliness and desolation. This is how many refer to times of depression among God's people. When I'm speaking about depression, I'm not talking about having a blue day, we all have those. And I'm not overlooking the fact that sometimes people do have chemical imbalances that demand treatment. I'm speaking though of that despondency, that dread that many of God's people go through that brings a prolonged sense of despair and hopelessness. For the Christian, hope is the belief that regardless of our circumstances, God is going to come through. To lack that kind of hope is to become hopeless, despondent, despairing, even sick. When you're depressed you lose the sense that God is going to come through.

The author of Psalm 42 is going through one of those dark night of the soul experiences. His soul is "downcast," and he is "disturbed within." The author of this Psalm, although unknown, is obviously a man of deep faith who had somehow been removed from Jerusalem and the temple which he loved to frequent. He probably had been taken into exile either in Aram, Assyria, or Babylon and he is now in the hands of captors who are taunting him with the words, "Where is your God?" (vv.3, 10).

He is separated from Jerusalem and the temple but the distance is more than geographical, God seems to be absent. We are onlookers into his personal pain and prayers. The Psalmist is struggling with God and himself and back again, but in his struggling he remembers to put his hope in God. We can identify with the Psalmist. More often than not, for us the Christian life is equally a messy experience of struggling with God and ourselve ...

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