Happiness: Our longing to be happy is not bad. In fact, C.S. Lewis says it is required: “It is a Christian duty for everyone to be as happy as he can.” What happens, however, when we are not happy? When things happen (or do not happen) that make us sad? Is it inconsistent to be a Christian and also to have feelings of sorrow, confusion and/or depression?
Depression: In Psalm 42, the psalmist struggles with depression: “My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’” . He continues: “I say to God, my rock: ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?’” . How does this psalm teach us to confront our feelings of sorrow, confusion and/or depression?
Preaching: “Have you realized,” writes D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, “that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you … Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? … Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.’ You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself … And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, who God is, what God is, what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then, having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man, ‘I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God’” .
Prayer: Lord, Thank you for inspiring psalms like Psalm 42 that do not conclude with an all-wrapped-up-in-a-bow ending. As we preach to ourselves, may we cling to your word, not our circumstances. Teach us to say, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? Put your hope in God!” May we not be like chaff that blows in the wind, but like trees that drink your water. Amen.
 Psalm 42:3 ESV |  Psalm 42:9 ESV |  D. Martin Lloyd-Jones. Spiritual Depression.