“Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.”
Psalm 69:1-3 ESV
There is another condition that may be affecting the human body amidst these times, besides the globally-feared COVID-19. Incredible sadness. Sorrow. Desolation. Extreme loneliness. Perhaps even depression.
It is quite normal to feel this way. In Zack Eswine’s highly-recommended book, Spurgeon’s Sorrows , he says the following: “In this fallen world, sadness is an act of sanity, our tears the testimony of the sane.” Though it may seem normal to feel sad in tough times, it is not something the world approves of today. It is proclaimed all over the media that one needs to be independent and strong. Weakness is regarded as an embarrassment. In some churches it is even taught that being depressed is sinful. But let us rather look at what God’s Word says.
There are many examples in the Bible of people experiencing terrible sadness. Even our Lord Jesus wept for his friend moments before raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:35), not to mention his agony and blood sweat in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46).
Today we look back to King David, the man after God’s very own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). It is important to note that David being a man after God’s own heart, said more about God than it did about David. He was still human, fallen and sinful. Nevertheless, we can learn a lot from David and how he dealt with his own grief.
We can read about David’s life and how he came to be king of Israel in the books of 1 and 2 Samuel. He was a shepherd and the youngest of the sons of Jesse. Long before his reign began, he was anointed as future king, while Saul was still on the throne. Initially, there was a kind of friendship between Saul and David. Saul had been tormented by a “harmful spirit” and David was called to play the lyre for him. David also became a commander in his army after
Saul heard about David’s victory over Goliath. But we can all see that things were going to turn sour soon.
As David became more famous among the people, Saul grew increasingly jealous, and in 1 Samuel 18, he tried to kill David – the first of many tries. From chapter 18 to 26, we read of David literally running for his life, aided by Saul’s son, Jonathan. Towards the end of 1 Samuel, David found safety with the Philistines, but not for long. They soon recognised him as the one who killed Goliath and he had to run for his life again.
When Saul died and David was made king, one would think that things would have gone somewhat easier for David, but no. The book of 2 Samuel sounds like a bloodbath out of Game of Thrones . One of Saul’s sons tried to become king himself and later on David’s own son, Absalom, opposed him as well. David knew suffering intimately.
“I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes.”
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”
“Be gracious to me, O Lord , for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing…”
“I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.”
These are but a few of many examples of David’s deep distress. But why do we look to his Psalms for comfort? How is his grief different?
Even though David was “down in the dumps”, so to speak, he always looked to the Lord, cried out to Him, and placed his hope in Him:
“I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.”
Psalm 18:1-3 ESV
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
“ I waited patiently for the Lord ; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.”
Psalm 40:1-3 ESV
David did not look toward his circumstances, his possessions or even his friends for peace of mind. He knew that true peace could only come from God. Yes – the urge to give in to sin and temptation is much bigger when we are sad or anxious. We can easily justify our idol worshiping or temper tantrums when we feel grief. Just a bit more food. Just another small glass. I am allowed to be angry with everyone. I am allowed to find fault with everything. These aren’t normal times – I blame the virus! But it doesn’t need to be like this.
Sadness can draw us closer to God. It humbles us and makes us realise that we are not independent or strong, that we are not in control, and that we direly need a Saviour. He is the only one who can truly bring us comfort and peace amidst these dark times.
So, by all means, feel sad; go through all the emotions. But take it to God. Cry out to Him, like David did. If you are struggling to pray, speak one of the Psalms to God. If you cannot work from home or are retired, having a lot of time on your hands, why not read through the Psalms daily?
And as we just celebrated Easter, let’s remember that our salvation doesn’t depend on our emotions. However desolate and helpless we feel, Jesus is still our risen King. I am going to quote Eswine again: “It is Christ and not the absence of depression that saves us. So, we declare this truth. Our sense of God’s absence does not mean that He is so. Though our bodily gloom allows us no feeling of His tender touch, He holds on to us still. Our feelings of Him do not save us. He does. Our hope therefore, does not reside in our ability to preserve a good mood but in His ability to bear us up.”