Depression is Normal. It needs a Sound Track.

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March 7, 2014

Psalm 42

As the deer pants for water clear, so my soul thirsts for You;
My soul thirsts for the living God; When can I meet with You?

My tears have been my food all through the day and through the night;
While men mock me and say all day, “Where is your God of might?”

These things I do remember, Lord, as I pour out my soul:
How I went with the multitude into the house of God.

I led the great procession with a shout of joy and song;
With thanksgiving I went among the festive, joyful throng.

Why are you so downcast, my soul? Why so disturbed in me?
Put hope in God – I’ll praise Him yet; My Savior God is He!

My soul is downcast within me, so I remember You;
From land along the Jordan, heights of Hermon, Mizar, too.

Deep calls to deep within the roar of Your great waterfalls;
Your waves and breakers swept o’er me; They flood me without pause.

By day the Lord directs His love, His steadfast love to me;
At night His song my comfort is; My prayer to God will be.

I say to God my Rock, “O why have You forgotten me?
Why must I mourn all day oppressed by the vile enemy?

My bones do suffer mortal pain; My foes taunt me all day;
“Where is your God?” they mock with scorn; “Where is your God?” they say.

Why are you so downcast, my soul? Why so disturbed in me?
Put hope in God – I’ll praise Him yet; My Savior God is He!

CONSIDER THIS. . .

Depression is a normal part of being human. The Psalms norm depression as par for the course in the human experience. The singer instructs us in the counterintuitive practice of embracing depression rather than trying to escape it.

Song #42 is not a sweet praise chorus about a thirsty deer. It is the desperate cry of a depressed soul. The singer can literally not stop crying. The promising path of past success has come to a screeching halt, a dead end with no way out. The Quakers would speak of this almost universal human experience as “way closing.” Depression can be expected in the wake of way closing. Frantic efforts to make way open again will only make it worse.

The Psalm shows us the contours of an unlikely remedy: Singing. Here’s the shape of the song. I must become gut-level honest about my interior condition, which requires that I ask my soul the piercing question: “Soul, why are you so depressed?” And I may need some help from a friend, pastor or counselor to answer it. Medication can be very helpful in such times, but it is not a strategy. I must learn to grieve my losses and even mourn and cry in this stuck place. I must learn to pour out my soul to God.

Finally, I must cease anchoring my hope in “way opening” which so often in my mind is just another idealistic reconstruction of the past. We must follow the song to the bridge. What makes a good song great isn’t the chorus. It’s the bridge. The bridge leads us out of the depths of sadness and into the deeps of Love where we find that way is not some new opportunity or direction– Way is God!

By day the Lord directs His love, His steadfast love to me;
At night His song my comfort is; My prayer to God will be.

Depression is normal. It can take time to pass through. Way is God. Never stop singing.

Here’s a tune to get you started. 

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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