The Spice Box
by Sharon Robertson, Lt. Colonel –
Much as we hate to admit it, despair and depression strike all of us, Christian and non-Christian alike. A haunting feeling of aloneness; emptiness; that “down” feeling that we can’t quite identify; a vague sense of dread; a shadow that seems to somehow isolate or insulate us from the comfort of family and friends—even from God himself; an enervating numbness that robs us of the will to do anything. It becomes a heavy cloud that leaves us feeling like an inert mass, unproductive, helpless. The psalmist David was a frequent victim of such feelings and with good reason.
David was a man who seemed to have very little going for him. He was the youngest son in a large family. His family didn’t view him as having any particular potential. His greatest strength was not physical prowess or even his wisdom—he made some bad choices now and again. What set him apart was his willingness to put himself at risk for the sake of his God. God loved him. God chose him. God had plans for him. God used him. God made him a king.
One might think that being the anointed one, chosen by God, would be enough to make David’s life one of unalloyed joy and success. It wasn’t. He had good times and bad times, times when he was celebrated and times when he was persecuted and condemned.
David’s writings reflect personal spiritual battles that took place in times of fulfillment, as well as in times of deep despair. For a man known for his faithfulness, David found himself indulging in ungodly behavior far too often and suffering the consequences—the sense of guilt and separation from God—that brought him to his knees.
Guilt for wrongdoing was not the only reason David experienced depression and a sense of defeat. There were times in his life when circumstances seemed to overwhelm him, when he felt like God had deserted him, left him lost and defenseless.
David’s victorious walk with God was not due to his own invincible spiritual life. He was often down and discouraged for one reason or another, sometimes due to his own failures, sometimes due to the failures of loved ones, sometimes due to other circumstances totally beyond his own sphere of influence. Victory over depression came from one source only: his dependence on God to lead him out of the darkness into the light of his almighty presence. For him, salvation from his own mind-trap came from renewed awareness that no matter what happens, God is God, and The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him (Psalms 34:22), and Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies, your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep…How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings (Psalms 36:6-7).
It would be simplistic to think that normally clinical depression can be resolved without professional help (I say “normally” because I am not about to say that any good thing is impossible with God). At the same time, I can personally attest that David’s approach to rising above his circumstances through dependence upon the almighty God can work miracles in those moments—hours? days?—when the deep blue clouds of depression seem to settle over our spirits.
How? In practical terms, what difference can it possibly make simply to focus on God when the world starts falling apart around me? A lot!
Focusing on God helps me to see beyond my own situation, to see life from his perspective.
Focusing on God—singing his praises even when I don’t feel like singing—raises my spirits and reminds me of his faithfulness.
Focusing on God—who he is and what he can accomplish through those committed to him—can open my eyes to possibilities for the future.
Focusing on God can help me to slough off the oppressive weight of despair and think more clearly and positively.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no psychologist. I do not claim psychological insight. I am simply a child of God who has found comfort, strength and empowerment through rejoicing in him. Like David, this poor man cried, and the Lord heard, and delivered him out of all his troubles. I am so grateful that I want this for you as well.
After all, God loves you. God has chosen you. God has plans for you.