Navigating Grief and Depression

Psalm 31:9-10 Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly. For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.”

Losing a loved one close to us is never easy. As a saved child of God, we know they arrived safely in the arms of Jesus upon their departure. Their presence, affect, and their passing magnifies the effect on our life onto Heaven. 

Even now, emotions rise over the loss of my parents over the last years. Memories flood my mind, and my heart becomes heavy, and eyes wet with tears. The memories are sweet and often bring a smile.

But, there are those times when I wish Dad were here to talk through an issue or share the day’s activities. I wish Mom were here to see her grandchildren grow and learn. It is during these times that it is my choice how to handle the emotions that come.

When we are unprepared to handle the grief or depression that comes, we allow the emotion to control us. David gives us insight into his heart in the writing of this psalm. 

Psalm 31:11-13 I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me. I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel. For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.”

David takes us to some of the depths of his grief and depression. 

Depression comes when hope seems clouded or out of reach. It saps our strength. It halts motivation and desire. It seems to have invisible bonds that have the power to run and rule our lives. When sleep comes, it is there when we wake. It follows us into every area of our life. Without God, we feel powerless against it. 

When all seemed lost, David opens his life to us and reveals how he coped. 

Psalm 31:14 But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God.”

Faith kicks in and guides him to prayer. He recognizes God’s Omniscience, Omnipotence, and Omnipresence.

Psalm 31:15 My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.

He follows with petitions that ask for mercy, grace, and deliverance. 

One he completes his request, David then praises God.

Psalm 31:19-21 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the LORD: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city.”

One of the hardest things to do when in the throes of grief or depression is to pray. But pray, we must. Faith must conquer our fear, grief, and depression. It must push past the bonds we feel hold us fast.

What happens when we cannot get over it? We feel overwhelmed, powerless to change, and alone. We rationalize and spiritualize our condition. Yet we are like Asaph in Psalm 73.

Psalm 73:2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.”

Psalm 73:14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.”

Then, he relates the times when Heaven seemed shut up to his requests.

Psalm 77:2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.”

He then questions God.

Psalm 77:7-9 Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.”

In the verses that follow, Asaph rehearses all that God has done in the past. He paves the way for hope to enter. When we can focus on the future, we can see that God has plans on which we can rely. 

Our enemy would have us believe that we are unable to surpass this mountain of grief or depression. Our God asks us to grab hold of His hand and allow Him to walk us through the high mountains and dark valleys.

God never intended us to go through it alone. His promise to never leave us nor forsake us take on human form at times. A hug, a word of encouragement, a gentle nudge from a loving friend or family, allows us to see God use someone to reveal His love toward us.

I often ache for His presence to be real in times of adversity. It is available to us as a child of God. 

Isaiah 43:2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Wherever you find yourself today, know that He has not left you if you are God’s child, nor will He forsake you. He has not left you to go through it alone. It must be our priority to come faithfully, earnestly, and humbly to seek His presence in our life. 

There is so much more to say on this subject. Many suffer without relief. It is God and God alone who has the cure for grief and depression. Navigating through can be an arduous task, but you are not alone.

Deuteronomy 20:1 When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”

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