November 3, 2015

Psalm 38:1-22

Former Major League Baseball pitcher for the San Francisco Giants Dave Dravecky wrote the following regarding the depression he suffered after the amputation of his pitching arm due to cancer, at the height of baseball career:

Before I went through my own valley of suffering and depression, whenever I would read the Psalms, I would wonder why God put all of King David’s “whining” in the Scriptures for everyone to see. I felt it was such a display of weakness and a poor display of faith.

But after I went through my own depression, I can’t tell you how thankful I was that God recorded King David’s “whining” in His Word because I now could so identify with his suffering—I cried out those same cries—I felt those psalms were recorded just for me.

It brought me great comfort in my pain to know that I was not the only one who ever experienced depression in the valley of suffering. King David was “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) —Israel’s most illustrious king—a giant killer from his youth—and yet also, here was a man given to depression in the midst of his suffering.

If you have ever been depressed, you know the symptoms: faintness of heart, endless days, sleepless nights, tears, obsessive fear, numbness, weakness, loss of energy, loss of joy, weight loss or gain—just to list a few. As I read the Psalms, I realized that King David experienced many of the same symptoms of depression.

His laments and the laments of others before God are recorded in Scripture—notice the similar symptoms:

“My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes.” Psalm 38:10

“My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. Because of my loud groaning I am reduced to skin and bones. I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins. I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.” Psalm 102:4-7

“I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” Psalm 6:6

“My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me: horror has overwhelmed me.” Psalm 55:2, 4, 5

But just as I lamented about my depression before God the same laments as King David, I am thankful that I could also join in chorus and sing out the same praises with King David when he sang:

“I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.” Psalm 40:1-3 (NLT)