Psalm 42: Depressed? Practice Hope!

I’m not a mental health expert, so don’t go throwing away your meds if you are under the care of a medical professional. And please don’t take this as the final word on clinical depression. So with that caveat out of the way, let me just say that I think the authors of this psalm, the sons of Korah, David’s worship team, are on to something.

Read Psalm 42:1-11

Depressed? Practice Hope!

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
(Psalm 42:11)

I’m not a mental health expert, so don’t go throwing away your meds if you are under the care of a medical professional. And please don’t take this as the final word on clinical depression. So with that caveat out of the way, let me just say that I think the authors of this psalm, the sons of Korah, David’s worship team, are on to something.

Since we believe this sacred book, the Bible, is God’s perfect revelation of himself and his will for mankind, then let’s lean it to it as our perfect and only rule of faith and practice. Let’s treat it as we should—as the first, highest and best authority by which we will live our lives!

So when it comes to the ups and downs that we commonly experience in our daily existence, this psalm reminds us that the sure path to emotional balance and inner joy is to practice hope. The psalmist says, “put your hope in God.” The Apostle Paul said it a bit differently—but he had the same thing in mind: Put on…hope.” (I Thessalonians 5:8)

Practice hope! How? Start by dwelling on the love and kindness that God has for you. Dwell on all the things he has done for you for which you are grateful. Dwell on all the promises he has made to you in Scripture. Dwell on the promise of heaven. Basically, just do some reverse worrying. What do you do when you are worried? You dwell on the negative. So just turn that around and dwell on the truth of God’s Word. Do that—practice hope—and watch it “rock your world.”

Don’t believe that will work? Well, let me give you just one example of how hope can change you. Suppose you were to receive a phone call later today from an old friend who enthusiastically says, “Friend, I have good news. You can take a 7-day trip to Hawaii with my company that won’t cost you a dime. We have room for two more…but here’s the catch: we leave tomorrow evening at 9:00 PM. The boss is taking us on his private jet, and we’ll be staying at his beachfront villa in Maui.” You tell him you’ll call him right back, and the minute you get off the phone, you and your spouse, who was listening in, start thinking and planning. Out comes the pen and paper, and you begin to prioritize what you need to do to make this happen. Then you call the friend back, and tell him you’re in.

If that were to happen, I guarantee that you would then begin to ruthlessly align your life over the next 24 hours to pull off that all expenses paid trip to paradise. You might say that the hope of Hawaii tomorrow changed the way you lived today.

There’s something even better and more permanent that Hawaii. It’s called heaven. So why don’t you live like you are going there tomorrow—everyday! Here’s the deal: You’ll be amazed at how hitching your hope to the promise of heaven (or the love of God, or the blessings of salvation, or any other truth of God’s Word) will change everything you experience today—even your emotions.

So why don’t you give it a try! As the psalm says, “Hope thou in God!”

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

6 thoughts on “Psalm 42: Depressed? Practice Hope!

  1. The Pruning Shears
    Posted on May 25, 2011 by Douglas Abbott

    I’ve been experiencing phenomenal resistance in every area of my life recently. It doesn’t seem possible that it is coincidence. The opposition has been fierce and has seemed to violate the laws of physics and the statuary tables. There are things happening to me that can’t possibly happen, but they are.

    For a believer, the proper response would be to know that it could be an attack of some sort or testing from above (or both at once) and to pray and hold on. But this attack is more vicious, if it is an attack and not some sort of mid-life crisis on steroids. Not only are all my efforts in life coming to nothing, but I find myself in doubt about the value of my life, the significance of my existence in the world. I’m wondering if anything important is happening as a result of my prayers and my acknowledgement of God in my daily affairs.

  2. I know the world is empty. I’ve completely given up on it. It’s full of sorrow and sham and bursting with meaningless garbage. Most of its inhabitants don’t even know I exist. All its wares are cheap and unsatisfying. It’s like a Wal-Mart where you pay top dollar. So I don’t have any illusions about finding what I want in the world. If my life doesn’t amount to anything in the spiritual realm, then it might as well be over. If I were to walk away from God, the next step would be to jump out a window. That is the degree to which I have separated myself from the world in my thinking and my imagination.

    • Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts. I pray that the God of hope and comfort reveals himself to you in a fresh way. And my encouragement to you is to hang on to faith–and trust! I have been blessed recently by a Brennan Manning book called "Ruthless Trust". In the book, Manning offered these profound insights:

      “The splendor of a human heart which trust that it is loved gives God more pleasure than Westminster Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, the sight of ten thousand butterflies in flight, or the scent of a million orchids in bloom. Trust is our gift back to God, and he finds it so enchanting that Jesus died for love of it.”

      “Unwavering trust is a rare and precious thing because it often demands a degree of courage that borders on the heroic.”

      “To be grateful for an unanswered prayer, to give thanks in a state of interior desolation, to trust in the love of God in the face of the marvels, cruel circumstances, obscenities, and commonplaces of life is to whisper a doxology in darkness.”

      Hope you can offer than precious gift of your trust back to God.

      • Thanks for your encouraging words and the reference. "Ruthless Trust" sounds like a winner. And yes, a fresh revelation of God I need. Nevertheless, I continue on. Like Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

  3. Hey Pastor Ray. Thanks for posting. I lost my daughter to suiced last year. I have a son who since then is acting up and may end up in jail if he continues like this. We are losing our house and I am not making enough money to live on or even pay my tax bill. Yet in all of this I am hanging onto the one universal truth that will never change – That God is good. I think I can understand a little how David felt when he encouraged himself in the Lord like that. I wanted to quit. I was in such pain. But God is helping me to walk with him even without any guarantee that tomorrow will be any better. In spite of my heartache and circumstances, I am not in fear tonight. I have perfect peace that passes all understanding. I am grateful to God for that. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. There is nothing better than having God in my life. Yet will I rejoice in the Lord. Thanks again for your encouraging post.

    Pastor Don Shafer
    Rock Church of Anchorage