Devotional Week 18 Friday
“I will satisfy the weary soul, I will replenish every sorrowful soul.”
Jeremiah 31: 25
Have I given my “heavy-heart” to Jesus?
Do I trust Jesus to replace my despair with His delight?
“When you come to the bottom, you find God.”
Not long ago, I began to read a new translation of the written works of John of the Cross called Dark Night of the Soul. In the biography of his life that introduces his words, author Mirabari Starr describes the conditions that surrounded some of the words penned by John:
“At the ago of thirty-five, (John) was captured…taken and interrogated and tortured…He was imprisoned in a tiny dark closet that had previously served as a toilet. He was brought out only to be flogged in the center of the dining commons while others watched…he suffered virtual starvation…he endured brutal cold…in the summer, the heat was stifling and his clothes began to rot on his body. At first he took comfort in his quiet interior connection to God, but over time the divine presence began to fade and John could not help but wonder if (God) had abandoned him. He was Jonah languishing in the belly of the whale.”
Now, we don’t all suffer beatings and imprisonment, but I think it is safe to say that each one of us, at one time or another in our lives, has felt as though we were faced with our own “dark night of the soul.”
There are times when due to illness, of a physical or mental nature, no light seems to pierce the darkness that encompasses us. As we stumble around, reaching out to grasp a helping hand, I’m certain each of us has let out a plaintive cry, “Where are you God when I need You most?”
I have faced several times in my life when walls of darkness seemed to be closing in on me. It has been at these desperate moments when all I’ve seen were the clouds – not the sunlight – that I have been deeply encouraged by the Scripture. For God in His word doesn’t just leave a record of the happy-ever-after stories. He also shares the words of humans who hit emotional walls in their lives – and all I can say is:“Thank you, God, for telling the whole story!”
One of the individuals in the Bible who faced many times of depression and despair was the Psalmist David. If we read through the Psalms, there are times when David wrote some very scary and desperate words. He got angry, upset, joyous, and depressed. Just in case you think I may be overstating his emotions, I want to share Psalm 143 with you:
A David Psalm
“Listen to this prayer of mine, God; pay attention to what I’m asking. Answer me – you’re famous for your answers! Do what’s right for me…
The enemy hunted me down; he kicked me and stomped me within an inch of my life.
He put me in a black hole, buried me like a corpse in that dungeon.
I sat there in despair, my spirit draining away, my heart heavy, like lead.
I remembered the old days, went over all you’ve done, pondered the ways you’ve worked.
Stretched out my hands to you, as thirsty for you as a desert thirsty for rain.
Hurry with your answer, God! I’m nearly at the end of my rope.
Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you.
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
For your name’s sakes, O Lord, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.”
The Message and
New International Version
It’s very apparent – David had hit a wall. His emotions were in tatters. His joy had turned to despair. He was a discouraged, depressed man who was at the end of his rope. And so he decided to go to the one place we are always welcome – he went to God. Obviously this isn’t the first time David found himself in the pit of depression. Earlier in Psalm 42: 11 he asks this question of himself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?” And here’s the solution he came to: “Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”
In those dark times, when the fog of depression and despair settles upon us like a heavy blank – our only hope – the only dependable, never failing hope that will never leave us is God. If you are facing those dark clouds now, may God’s strong arms surround you and lift you from the pit of discouragement.
“Despondency may shake our faith and weaken the most steadfast will, but God understands and He still pities and loves us…Nothing is apparently more helpless, yet really more invincible, than the soul that feels its nothingness yet relies wholly on God.”
“Ok, so Lord…here’s the deal:
I get sad and frightened and stupid and (depressed) once in a while.
Right now, for instance.
I know it doesn’t last.
I know I will feel better soon.
I know it’s all in my hormones and synapses and brain chemistry.
I know that at times like this I believe lies about myself and everybody else…
And I have trouble believing in You…
Except that then the angels gather.
Someone brings me an extra grocery bag for my flowers so they
don’t freeze before I get them in the car.
Someone rents a funny movie for me.
Someone understands how I feel and demands my best work anyway.
Someone keeps loving me no matter what.
The evidence all points to You being right there helping me through it
so that maybe I can be smart and happy next week.
I’m grateful I am.
But, Jesus, I’ve been working so hard to love my family
and do my job and my music
and not let anybody down who depends on me.
I’m not only sad and frightened and stupid and (depressed)…
I’m also really really really tried.
Holly Jo Turnquist Fischer
“My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.”
Psalm 119: 28
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me…
To console those who mourn…
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”
Isaiah 61: 1, 2
New King James Version
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus