Giving a nod to the psalmists, Pastor David of New Covenant Fellowship shows that the best way one can change their perspective is going to God in worship.
part 3 worship your way out of depression
He’s 18 years old and he is in love; he has never felt this way about anybody before; he gives her everything. He spends money on her and buys her gifts; he forsakes his friends and family in order to spend every possible waking moment with her. He gives her his virginity and with it he gives her his heart. Eighteen months, he invested everything in her getting in her world and well his world, it was her.
How did she repay him? Well, she puts his tender heart in a blender watch it spin around to a beautiful oblivion. She deceived him, lied to him, cheated on him. The young man was crushed, heart broken. The months that follow are some of the darkest days of his life. Here was this young man who had historically been a very positive person, usually happy, always seeing the silver lining even on the blackest of clouds…but not now. This girl was his world. He couldn’t sleep. Didn’t want to get up. Didn’t want to eat. What did he have to live for? He felt like he might as well drive off a cliff.
In case you’re wondering what happened to that young man, don’t worry, I know him; he didn’t drive off of a cliff. He ended up meeting Jesus, meeting some really amazing people, and he’s actually a pastor now.
Maybe you can relate to that young man. Perhaps:
Somebody said or did something unkind or unloving to you
somebody hurt you or violated the relationship in some way.
They broke trust; they were less than faithful.
They didn’t keep their word, they didn’t hold up their end of the deal.
Perhaps they did something downright evil or wicked to you.
Perhaps a friend told the secret that you made them swear not to tell.
Perhaps someone at work gossiped about you or slandered you or threw you under the bus to cover her own failure.
Perhaps somebody used you and made your relationship a one way street; forget symbiotic relationship, we’re talking dysfunctional relationship.
Or perhaps they stole from you because they needed crack money. You laugh, but it happens.
Perhaps a boyfriend lied to you or cheated on you.
Or worse, your spouse did.
THE CLOSER THEY ARE THE MORE PAINFUL; THE DEEPER THE DEPRESSION
It’s one thing when you walk into the theater at Alamo draft house and the employee grabs your wife’s water bottle out of her hand and throws it in the trash; it’s like come at me bro. That was a buster move, bro. But it ends there. That doesn’t plunge you into a deep dark depression. But when someone close to you does you dirty, it’s a different story. Because we are such relational people, designed for relationships, when our relationships are violated, we are subject to sorrow and sadness. The closer we are to someone who wrongs us, the deeper the wounds and the darker the depression that results.
YOUCAN FACE CERTAIN DEFEAT IF…
Let me share some insight with you. If you want to allow depression to be victorious over you if you want to be defeated by depression if you want to stay in the gloomy pit of despair then just:
harbor bitterness towards that person
continue to be angry with them
hold a grudge and think ill thoughts toward them
whatever you do, don’t forgive them
Find some music that reinforces these ill thoughts.
If your girlfriend did you wrong, listen to Limp Bizkit.
If your wife, ex-wife, or baby momma did you wrong listen to Eminem.
Relive it all in your mind and reinforce it, burn it into your memory, rehash those feelings.
And you can be sure that depression will continue to reign over you.
BUT IF YOU ARE DEPRESSED BECAUSE ANOTHER PERSON HAS DONE YOU WRONG AND YOU REALLY DESIRE TO BE VICTORIOUS OVER DEPRESSION THE ANSWER IS:
LOVE GOD & LOVE OTHERS
This is our express purpose as a church of Jesus Christ and as the church of Jesus Christ. This is what Jesus said were the most important commandments.
This should be woven into everything we say and do and teach here at NCF:
It’s on our t-shirts
It’s on our outreach cards
It’s on our website front page
you may notice that it’s in many or most of our messages in some way shape or form
How do we do that and how does that help us to defeat depression? Turn with me in your bibles to Psalm 42.
In the Psalms we find one of the greatest expressions of love toward God: worship. Last week, I mentioned that one very practical and biblical antidepressant is to read through and pray through the Psalms. What you will find in the Psalms is a general flow of the psalmist crying out to God. Whether it is:
God, vindicate me
God why have you forsaken me?
God why are my enemies triumphing over me?
God, where are you?
The psalmist usually ends up at some point coming to a place of praise and worship: Yes, this is my situation and it stinks, but now that I think about it, You’re awesome, you’re faithful, you’re worthy of my worship, you’re bigger than my problems and now my focus, my attention is on you and your greatness, your mercy and your love.
Ultimately, the psalmist worships his way out of depression. We will see some of that in Psalm 42.
1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Recognizes his need for God. Deep desire for God.
3 My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” The psalmist is clearly depressed. While others are munching on Big Macs this guy is living on a steady diet of tears.
4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: Open and honest pours out soul. He isn’t superficial. He doesn’t play the tough guy. He humbly expresses his emotional state before God and everyone who will ever read this psalm.
how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. Recognizes the value of communal corporate, worship – festive throng. We can worship in private, but there is something about worshiping God together with fellow believers. Being around your brothers and sisters in Christ is helpful in and of itself, but worshiping together is and should be a fond experience; here the psalmist remembers it fondly and longs for it.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. This line is indicative of the psalmist’s emotional state. His soul is downcast, it is disturbed within him. He is gloomy, sad, depressed.
6 My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. Remembers God and resolves to remember God even when he feels far from him.
7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. 8 By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. Sings, praises, and prays. We see that he is on the right track as his focus is shifting toward God. He is on track to worship his way out of depression.
9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” He is bearing his soul. He is being open about his feelings, even open with God that it feels like God has forgotten him. God knows our thoughts so he will never be surprised by them. I can’t tell you how many times I have just been brutally honest and open with God complaining about someone or something and immediately he brings to mind a parallel in my life and puts me in check. We tend to see this in the psalms. The psalmist starts off complaining to God and then he ends up praising God.
10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 11 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. If this sounds familiar, it should. Just read it in verse 5. Here is the refrain. In the midst of the pain, the harm, the taunting, the feeling that God is not with him, he resolves to praise God (42:5&11) He counsels his own soul; HE resolves to WORSHIP his way out of depression.
1 Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked. Once again, we see that he prays; he is looking to God for rescue and vindication.
2 You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? Once again, we see his honesty before God, his feeling as though he didn’t have God’s favor, as though God has rejected him. When we are in the pit of despair, we tend to over exaggerate, don’t we? One person has wronged us, but our cry is nobody loves me, everyone is against me. God doesn’t even love me. Once again, we start laying our soul bare before the LORD and the longer we spend in prayer these over-exaggerations disappear and we get closer to the truth.
Those of you with older children. You tell them, “No, you can’t go there or do that.” They turn to you and say “You don’t love me; you don’t ever let me do anything.” You can bring to the fore about 800 million things that you have let them do and 10 million examples of your expression of love toward them. Same with God. We start popping off that foolishness and then after a little while we’re like…yeah…not really. You do love me.
And all he would really have to say is one word: “Jesus.” You really want to see my love for you? Jesus. You want to take a good look at the cross and then tell me that I don’t love you, that I have forsaken you. No I forsook Him. The punishment that brought you peace was upon him and by his wounds you are healed. See what love I have for you?
3 Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. He is looking to God for guidance and fellowship.
4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. He recognizes God as his joy and delight, resolving to praise, worshiping his way out of depression.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Once again, the refrain (43:5)
Too many points to remember all of them, but let’s tie them all together in a summary:
He recognizes his deep need for God and the importance of worshiping God, turns to God, openly and honestly, prays to him, and praises him. We learn from these Psalms and other Psalms that the way to defeat depression is to worship your way out of depression. We see it in the refrain in which he counsels his soul: Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
The Psalmists were living during the old covenant age; there was a prescribed way to worship, a prescribed place for worship.
For you and I, we live in the consummated Kingdom of God, in the wake of a new age, the age of the New Covenant, in which we worship God in spirit and in truth, not limited by geography or architecture, for we are the temple of the living God and have access not only to the court of the gentiles or the outer courts, or even the holy place, but the holy of holies, the most holy place. God is with us and within us. Our worship is unlimited and unbound.
We don’t have to go to geographical Jerusalem; we don’t have to go to geographical mt zion, For we have come to Mt Zion , to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. We have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heave3n. We have come to God, the judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the word of Abel.
We don’t even have to come to the Page House to worship. It doesn’t have to be Sunday at 10:00 am. It can be Tuesday at 2:00 or Thursday at 3:00 or Friday at 4:00 or Saturday at 7:00
It can be in the car, at work, at school, at home, any time any place all day erday.
When it comes to worship, the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.
Heart of worship lyrics When the music fades and all is stripped away and I simply come longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless Your heart
I’ll bring You more than a song. For a song in itself Is not what You have required. You search much deeper within through the way things appear. You’re looking into my heart. I’m coming back to the heart of worship. And it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus
Our worship is not limited to what we do on Sunday mornings, but it is an expression of the heart toward God and it’s all about Jesus.
Singing is a beautiful way to worship as it is so expressive of the heart but it has to be from the heart and not just empty words that we sing by rote mechanics
But there are other ways that we can worship
We can write a poem about God or to God
We can pray, just talking to God
We can praise him, thank him
We can tell others about him and speak of his glory and tell of his mighty acts, share the gospel of Jesus
We can live out our love for him
Ultimately it has to do with focus, focus on him
Worshipping the LORD is our antidepressant; it is our yellow brick road that leads us out of the pit of despair. In short, we should worship our way out of depression.
If you aren’t depressed this doesn’t apply to you, though. There is no great urgency or importance in worship, for those who are experiencing joy. Not so. If you aren’t depressed now, you aren’t immune to it; you are succeptible to it.
While you may not be depressed now and you may not need to worship your way out of depression, nonetheless you should worship and in so doing you will worship depression out of your way.
The depressed should worship their way out of depression
The rest should worship depression out of their way
Again, one way to stay in the pit of despair, one way to make sure that the shackles of sorrow and sadness stay on your wrists, one way to make sure that depression defeats you is to focus on you.
If I am focused on me, God is in the background kind of blurry, not as easy to see.
But if I am focused on God, me is in the background, kind of blurry, not as easy to see.
Yes, I have been wronged, people have hurt me, violated the friendship broken trust, but that’s not what I’m looking at
I’m looking at Jesus on the cross dying for the ways that I have wronged him, times I have hurt him, violated our friendship, been unfaithful
Yes, I could remain bitter and unforgiving toward those who have done me wrong, but that’s not what I’m looking at
I’m looking at Jesus who wiped my sins away and remembers them no more, so it’s easier for me to forgive and forget
Yes, I could look at how pitiful and sad I am and how terrible people have treated me but I’m not looking at that
I’m looking at how big and glorious and wonderful my God is and how well he has treated me and called me his son and given me life in abundance
When it comes to defeating depression, we must shift our focus away from self and toward God; in so doing we will worship our way out of depression.
We stated earlier that the big picture is simply turn our focus away from self and love God and love others.
Generally speaking, loving others is a great way to defeat depression because like the focus illustration with God and self, it works the same with others and self. If we are focused on loving and blessing and serving others, our focus isn’t on ourselves and our situation.
But I want to hone in on the specifics of loving the ones who hurt you; we are discussing the fact that at times our depression is the result of other’s wrongs toward us.
How should we respond to that? It is natural for humans to want to even the score, to seek vengeance, to retaliate. They hurt me, I will hurt them back
But…do two wrongs make a right?
If you long to be joyful is drinking the bitter cup of resentment and unforgiveness the yellow brick road to the great and wonderful oz of happiness?
Our great two fold purpose is to love God and love others; is it loving to others to hold a grudge?
Is it how Jesus taught or did he say something like not seven times but seventy seven times or seventy times seven?
Is it the directive of Paul’s epistles or did he say something like “do not repay anyone evil for evil…if your enemy is hungry feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink” (Rom 12:17,20)
Is it the way of the Kingdom to wrong the wrongdoer and settle the score or is it the way of the kingdom to extend to others the grace that has been extended to us, to pay it forward.
If God so loved the world that he gave his son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life and forgiveness of sins, how much more should we love others and forgive them for what they have done to us?
As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to forgive and if we have been forgiven such a great sin debt toward God because all our sin is ultimately against him as we saw last week and if he has forgiven us how much more are we to forgive our neighbors or our friends those closest to us.
And in that forgiveness in that restoration of friendship often times you’ll find that your friendship is improved grows stronger. Trust is rebuilt it takes time but once trust is rebuilt the relationship is stronger than before because you’ve been through things deeper things in your friendship has withstood the test and your friendship is now deeper in your joy is magnified
You want to stay in the pit of despair and remain in the shackles of sadness and sorrow, be mad, stay angry, hold a grudge and be bitter, but if you want to defeat depression, go and reconcile with your brother, forgive them from the heart and make the relationship right.
We are highly relational people and when our relationships are out of sorts down we soar to a dark dark pit of despair. But we hold the key to unlock the gates and free us. True forgiveness.
You may be thinking HOW? When you are in the pit of despair. When you are in a dark place and you just feel like it would be better to drive your Honda off a cliff HOW? Well, admittedly, it is easier said than done. As one person said, “common sense isn’t always common practice.” We can know what we should do, but knowing and doing are two different things. So, this is when we dig deep into the theology of that great and famous and extremely successful shoe company, NIKE – Just do it.
You don’t feel like it. You feel like you can’t do it. But you can and you must.
There are actions that we know are necessary but we don’t always feel like doing them. Sometimes we have to just make ourselves do them. Just do it. Do you always FEEL like going to work? It certainly helps, right? But if you don’t feel like going, can you just stay home since you didn’t feel like it? No, even though you don’t feel like it, you get your butt up and you go, even when you don’t feel like it, even when it’s hard…why? Because it’s important. When we are in the pit of despair, when we are depressed, we don’t feel like forgiving. We feel like staying in bed or staying angry or bitter. We feel like wallowing in the mud of self pity and focusing on self. We don’t feel like worshiping. But it’s important.
Therefore, we cannot let our feelings dictate our actions. We must let our doctrine dictate our actions and our doctrine is love god love others. So how do you do that when you’re depressed and you don’t feel like it. Nike, baby. Just do it.
Often times the feelings will follow and reinforce the action. But we cannot wait until we feel like it to act.
I have met some people that want to stay there. They like to hang out in the pit of despair. If you want to stay in the pit of despair, you will stay there as long as you want to.
CONCLUSION & SUMMARY
Sometimes we experience depression when others wrong us. We can respond in several ways. One common response is to turn inward and focus on our selves, on our pain and how others have afflicted us, growing bitter toward them, perhaps holding a grudge or even seeking to retaliate. Another common response is to turn to other worldly sources such as drugs, alcohol, a tv show, angry music, sad music, or comfort food or some other coping mechanism. But these avenues only provide superficial comfort. They may help us to deal with depression, but they don’t truly help us defeat depression. In order to defeat depression, we must turn our focus away from ourselves and toward God and others, ultimately loving others by letting go of resentment, granting grace and forgiveness, loving God by praying and praising Him. In short, we must worship our way out of depression.