The Basis For Our Hope

You can live 40 days without food, seven days without water, seven minutes without air, but you can’t live a moment without hope. Hope is the present assurance of some future good. Depression is a sense of hopelessness born out of a negative and often false perception of ourselves, our present circumstances, and the future. The resultant emotional state may not be based on reality, nor perceived truthfully from God’s perspective. Recall from an earlier study that if what we believe does not reflect truth, then what we feel does not reflect reality.

In Psalm 13, David is exhibiting many of the classic symptoms of depression including hopelessness, negative self-talk, thoughts of death, and sadness. David is depressed because he has a false perception of himself and God. Even though David believes in God, he is depressed, because what he believes about God is not true. How can an omnipresent and omniscient God forget him? A chief characteristic of depressed people is a distorted concept of God and of themselves. If you believe that God has forgotten you, then you have no hope. If you think you have lost your salvation or never had it, then you have no hope.

“Wrestling with my thoughts” (vs. 2) is the plight of the depressed. To overcome depression we should first turn our thoughts to God, and that is what David did as does the Psalmist when he repeats the following verse three times in Psalms 42:5,11; 43:5: “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.” David chose to trust in God’s unfailing love (vs. 5). Like David, we can allow the negative circumstances of life to draw our attention away from God. The temporal state of his condition is put in the light of God’s unfailing love. God is the only constant is this ever-changing world.

Second, David’s heart rejoiced in his salvation. He remembered that he has a covenant relationship with God and so do we. God hasn’t changed and His word hasn’t changed. So when you find your hope fading, recall again who God is, and who you are in Christ.

Third, David sang to the Lord. Singing is a powerful way to focus our minds and to stop wrestling with negative thoughts. One of the main determinants of whether a depressed mood will persist or lift is the degree to which we ruminate. Worrying about what is depressing us makes the depression all the more intense and prolonged. Singing hymns of praise helps focus our minds, and singing is something we can choose to do. Plus, the spiritual dimension of music is often overlooked. When David played the harp, the evil spirit departed from Saul (1 Samuel 16), and the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha when the harpist played (2 Kings 3:15).

Dr. Neil

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