Hope for the Depressed (Psalm 143)April 30, 2023 | Brandon Cooper
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Good morning church. Go ahead, grab your bibles you can open up to Psalm 143, We’ll be in Psalm 143. This morning, as you’re turning to Psalm 143, the year is 1835 We are in Florence, Italy, and a man heads to a doctor. Because he is in absolute despair. He feels anxious all the time he feels depressed, he’s no longer eating or sleeping. He’s unwilling to be with his friends. And the doctor examines him and discovers that he’s in perfectly fine physical health. So he realizes the issue must be emotional or psychological, and decides what this man needs is a change of circumstances. He needs to laugh. And so the doctor tells him look, the circus is in town. Just go enjoy yourself, you know, laugh your head off. You know who’s there. Grimaldi, the world’s most famous clown is performing. I’ve talked to people who’ve gone they’re rolling in the aisles in the middle of this go, it will change you, I promise. And the man kept going, No, that’s not gonna work. It won’t. He says, Yes, it will. You need to laugh and Jake Grimaldi. He will do it remotely Grimaldi Grimaldi. And the man says he can’t help me. Because you see, I’m Grimaldi. Now, I have no idea if that happened or not, Grimaldi was a real clown. In fact, he kind of invented counting as we know it today. And he did struggle with depression later in his life. I don’t know if that story happened exactly as I just told it. But I know that it illustrates at least three kind of key aspects of the modern predicament. Number one is that there’s a huge number of us who are despairing and depressed. Currently, in the emerging generation, especially, you’re going to share a lot of these statistics already. Here it is again, though, but 48% of Gen Z, has said that they are moderately or extremely depressed. And one in five have had a severe depressive episode in the last year, there’s a huge number of us struggling the way Grimaldi was. Second, I think a lot of us are clinging to the mistaken belief, much like the doctor in this story, that the key is a change of circumstances. If we could just laugh, then we’d be fine. And whatever this might be, you know, if I got a job or got a new job, so I was in a new place, not in that hostile work environment anymore. If it solved these relationship problems, or got into a relationship, or whatever it is, that would solve it, or once I graduate, and I’m finally away from all these idiot classmates that I have, then I will be happy again. And then third, why I like this story in particular, there is the admission in it, though few of us have gotten there, there is the admission in it, that I can’t be the solution. Because I’m the problem. Grimaldi can’t help me. Because the problems inside of Grimaldi. I think this is honestly what social media has exposed in some ways. Why is that people who use social media, the average amount, especially teenagers, and especially teenage girls, are twice as depressed as the rest of the population. Because you’re putting yourself out there. And not making the grade. You’re putting yourself out on Instagram or Facebook or whatever. And you know, the likes aren’t there. They’re not as many as the other prisons that there’s this sense of I just didn’t measure up. And that’s what we need to tackle today. When we’re overcome with depression, when we’re feeling despair, within what do we do, I gotta give you a quick caveat, really, this is a caveat for the whole series, but especially today, I am addressing the spiritual root, because that is my wheelhouse. That’s also my task as preacher, I am not a psychologist, I just wanna be really clear about that. I’m not going to get into some of this stuff. We’re not talking about clinical depression, necessarily, I’m not gonna talk about serotonin levels, or whether or not medication will be right for you. Those are all conversations I’m willing to have. I’m mostly gonna help you find somebody who can have a better conversation with you than I can. But that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re just talking about the, the despair that that plagues us all. And once more as we address that, we’re gonna look at a prayer of David. And once more, we’re going to look at the same outline the reason for our depression, the remedy, and then ultimately, the response. So let’s start by looking at the reason for our despair. And I’ve summed it up although it’s more complicated than this with a simple phrase, God doesn’t love me. Psalm, Psalm 143. Let me read verses one to four to start us off. Lord, hear my prayer. Listen to my cry for mercy, and your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. Do not bring your servant into judgment for no one living is righteous before you. The enemy pursues me. He crushes me to the ground. He makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead. So my spirit grows faint within me. My heart within me is dismayed. David is crying aloud to God for relief. He’s in a bad spot. We see that in verse three, right? There’s some sort of enemy, pursuing him, crushing him even so that he feels alone and afraid he might as well be buried. That’s how alone and afraid he feels. Now, we don’t know the exact circumstances. What is going on that’s causing David to feel this way? Is it a literal or a figurative enemy that is pursuing him? I don’t know. And that’s kind of nice, by the way, because it means this is a prayer we can all pray. It’s very adaptable to our situation, because it isn’t that specific. Now, this could just be a colleague’s smear campaign against you, you know, accusing you of being unqualified, delinquent, whatever, that would be a literal enemy. And you’d be able to pray this prayer in that situation, it could be a temptation to sin, that would be the spiritual enemy that would be there as well. It could just be I mean, honestly, especially given today’s topic, that voice inside your head, just won’t go away. I keep telling you, you’re not good enough, whatever the exact situation. It causes David to despair. And so he says, verse four, my spirit grows faint within me, my heart within me is dismayed. He is in a word, depressed. Now, it’s interesting if you were to read David’s prayers, specially the first you know, 50 Psalms or so you would see over and over again that right about this moment, right after he talks about his enemies, he will say something like, help me because I’m blameless, upright, a more righteous as in, I’m not without sin, because we’re looking at David here on David Bathsheba man, like, I wouldn’t use the word blameless if I were you, okay? That’s what he’s talking about, though. He’s not saying I’m not without sin. He’s saying in this situation, I’m not the one at fault. So again, you’re being accused as shirking your real responsibilities at work or something like that. And, and you’re looking, you’re going normal, like I did this, I can show you the email actually even sent it a day early and had all the information you needed. This wasn’t on me. I’m blameless here. And that was true. And a lot of David’s life. You look at Saul and Absalom in particular, both of whom spent a lot of time pursuing him and both of them unjustly so we could say here, Lord, I’m in the right. But he doesn’t say that here, not today. Look at verse two. Look at what he says, instead, do not bring your servant into judgment for no one living is righteous before you. And righteousness. By the way, if you’re newer to church didn’t know the word. It’s just your performance record. That’s all that means the story of your life. He’s saying I, I realize no one has lived rightly, all the time. He sounds like Paul in Romans three all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God. There’s no one righteous, not even one. No one who does good all have turned away They have together become worthless. So he realizes, calling on a righteous judge like he does in verse one, and your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. Calling on a righteous judge is a little bit dangerous, because how can a righteous God save an unrighteous man? And so David almost pulls up short as he’s praying this prayer. And this is key is going to help us as we talk through this because of our rebellion against God. We all deserve punishment. suffering, pain, The wages of sin is death, Romans 623. And that complicates the discussion when we’re in tough circumstances, of course, am I being punished? Is that what’s going on here? And in one sense, the answer is, yes. Because we live in a broken world that is the consequence of our sin as humanity, but in another sense, not necessarily. Not necessarily. We see this throughout Scripture, the disciples look at a man born blind and John chapter nine and say who sin, this man or his parents that he should be born blind. And Jesus goes,
no, okay. The answer is no, neither. That’s not you can’t draw this one to one connection. You see that in job especially, God goes out of his way to say he is suffering on justly. This was not because of his sin, He is blameless and upright, there’s no one like him on all the earth, or think of Joseph. Now Joseph was a little bit arrogant, it’s true. I am not surprised his older brothers bullied him when he said, you’re all gonna bow down to me. That’s what happens. I was a younger sibling. I know what this is like, okay. But he certainly didn’t deserve decades as a slave and a prisoner as a result of that. So there’s now this one to one connection between specific suffering and specific sin. And that’s important because there are two temptations we will face when we are suffering or when we see the suffering around us. The first temptation is towards moralism. Which is to say you get what you deserve. So if you had lived a better life, you wouldn’t be suffering, what you’re suffering. Now, it’s basically karma. The other temptation is toward cynicism, cynicism, this might not be your fault. It’s just that we live in a cruel world. And God either doesn’t see or doesn’t care, or maybe most likely, isn’t there to begin with. Interestingly, of course, both those temptations assume that God isn’t there if you’re suffering to the moralist. God isn’t there, because he’s forsaken you because of your sin to the cynic. God isn’t there because he has forgotten you. In his non existence, or in his lack of concern, either one leads to despair. Both of those are going to leave you stuck in your depression. And that’s kind of what’s going on here. Like track what happens with David, there’s an enemy causing him problems. So he’s got bad external circumstances. So he prays this despairing prayer to the Lord, but it leads him in verse to to doubt himself. And you can see it just kind of hanging there in the background to doubt God’s love. How could God possibly love me look at who I am? Maybe he has forsaken? or forgotten me? Maybe those are my only two options. Is that right? No way. Right? No way God may or may not be put up punishing specific sin, but he is definitely exposing your greatest need when you’re suffering. Here’s the way Spurgeon put it. I’m gonna quote Charles Spurgeon quite a bit. Today, he was the great preacher of the 19th century, I’m quoting him a lot because he battled depression, his entire life, never came out of it. And so what he has to say here is going to speak powerfully to us. But he says this, the next best thing to living in the light of the Lord’s love is being unhappy until we have it. That’s a hard statement. The best thing is living in the light of the Lord’s love. Absolutely. But if you’re not living in the light of the Lord’s love, the best thing for you would be to hurt until you find it, so that you will go looking for it. So like, if you’re here today, and you’re asking questions about Christianity, and you’re skeptical, still you’re seeking, the best thing for you would be to be experiencing a feeling of malaise, or melancholy or madness, so that you start to scratch your deepest itch inside your eye. That may be why you’re here today, we’re going to know about Jesus, but I know something has to change. Mark Sayer says, if you are at the end of your self, you are ripe for renewal. And so bringing us to the ends of ourselves, is one of the kindest, most loving things God can do. If you’re feeling unhappy, and hopeless. Don’t assume that God isn’t there or doesn’t love you, it’s that he loves you enough to meet your deepest need. When we reach the end of ourselves, that’s a good thing. And God is going to use our suffering, we might say, going back to that opening illustration that Grimaldi is in a good place, feeling despair, to get to the best place, which is to live in light of the Lord’s love. What that means, though, is that our external circumstances are not the root cause of our despair and our depression. They’re not the root cause they expose the root cause it’s a little bit like when you get water in your basement. The problem is not the rain. The problem is that you’ve got a cracked Foundation. The rain just exposes the crack that you didn’t even know so you’re not going to fix the league, you’re going to fix the crack until the water gets in, which means a little bit of water could actually be a good thing so that you know there’s a problem you have to address. In the same way pain is purposeful in God’s plans. I get that’s not how we think today. I quoted the stat last week that 84% of Americans think the highest goal of life is enjoying yourself. So if enjoying yourself is your highest goal What possible part could pain play? None. Zero, which is why we despair when we suffer. But if the highest goal of life isn’t enjoying ourselves, but enjoying God, which is true, by the way, that is what we were made for. Well, that changes the whole calculus, pain to be purposeful and God’s plans. And let me say it. And this is a hard word, but it doesn’t mean it’s untrue. Pain could even be loving, and God’s plans. God loves us too much to leave us in our cells. Let’s think of it this week at random a little bit of a drill sergeant, I’ve never been in the military. But if the movies are at all true, drill sergeants do not seem like loving people. They yell at you a lot. They insult you, they call you names, they break you down, it will be so easy to look at them and go see the drill sergeant doesn’t love me, the drill sergeant hates me. In fact, when the reality is, I haven’t met them all. The drill sergeant loves you enough to do what needs to be done. So that when you go to war, you’re not killed. He loves him enough to see he just want to see the kids die. That’s why he’s there. That’s what he’s doing. And that’s just a drill sergeant. By the way, that’s not the Almighty, all knowing, all loving God of the universe. The Lord loves us too much to leave us to ourselves. So the reason for our depression is manifold. bad stuff happens. Yes. When it happens, we’re not sure God sees or cares or even exists. We begin to doubt ourselves. And we certainly begin to doubt God as well. God doesn’t love me if he exists. And frankly, I can see why. Because look at my unrighteousness No wonder that’s a great jumping off point. It’s not a fun jumping off point. But that’s a great jumping off point for us. Because we won’t fix the foundation until it leaks. And we won’t ask the biggest questions until we begin to despair of ourselves like Grimaldi did. I’m the problem. I keep messing up. I’m not measuring up. I’ve got the proof on Instagram, everyone can see it. So how could God or anyone love me? There’s the reason. Let’s talk about the remedy. And it’s a pretty simple fix. God does love me. Let’s look at it though. verses five and six. And they keep reading. I remember the days of long ago, I meditate on all your works in consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you I thirst for you, like a parched land. Do you see the David is not passive here. And that’s so important. He doesn’t just sit in his depression waiting for God to do something. He takes himself by the hand and leads himself from depression and dismay into hope. We must never forget. God made you to experience peace, like you are built for peace, you are built for hope. That’s why it hurts so much when you don’t have that. So of course, he’s going to provide the remedy in your hopelessness. That’s what David is aware of. So he doesn’t let himself dwell in despair. And I’m not gonna build a house here. Okay, we’re gonna we’re gonna get out of here. It’s like he’s saying, I can’t just let the tapes roll in my head. We don’t have tapes anymore. But you get the idea. You younger kids, you can ask your parents what that means later. Can I just let the tapes roll? Like, if you remember, this is another old one. But back in the days of broadcast television, when something big happened, they would come out and they say, We need to interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this whatever.
That’s it. That’s what David’s doing. I need to interrupt my regularly scheduled programming, the tapes that are normally playing to bring different information to light. Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones, when my favorite preachers of all time said, Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is because you’re listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? That’s the key insight. David is done listening. And so he interrupts himself, he talks to himself and he walks himself into the hope of the gospel. How? By remembering what God has done, I remember right, I meditate on only works, I consider what your hands have done. These are all marks by the way, have a disciplined mind. I’m not going to think whatever thoughts just happen to flit across my brain. I’m going to choose what I’m thinking About that’s what words like meditate and consider and remember, teach us. So if you’re checking out Christianity, though, at this point, you’re asking a question of verse five, which is, okay, what works? What exactly was David meditating on? Now David is in the Old Testament, so he lived before the time of Jesus. So what are some of the things he will be thinking about, he will be thinking about God’s call of Abraham, that he chose the Israelites out of all nations on earth to be his special possession. The exodus, which we talked a lot about last week, that he brought them out of slavery in Egypt, into the promised land. And on their way there He revealed Himself to them gave him gave them that his law so that they would know who God is, and how they can please him. The fact that God dwells in their midst with the tabernacle, and eventually the temple, he’s there, he’s present to them, he can be approached, even David’s own life story that God has given them, a king, to shepherd them. These are all good things. These are things that teach David something about who God is, and frankly, about who David is. And that’s important because we can’t trust our emotions, or our circumstances when trouble comes. They both will tell us, God has abandoned you. But that’s not true. We have to trust God, or we interpret our circumstances in light of God, we never interpret God, in light of our circumstances. That’s a huge shift. So when this happens, when we start to go, Does God care? Does God see Does God love me? Is he there? What do we do we do a David, we start to flip through the scrapbook of our hearts, the record of his faithfulness to his people and to us. As Spurgeon said it well, when we cannot trust God’s hand, I’m sorry, I said that wrong. Let’s can be bad. Start over. When we cannot trace God’s hand, we must learn to trust his heart. Right when he can’t see what his hand is doing good about you. But I know who God is. And that’s unchanging. And I will trust that, of course, this side of Jesus in the New Testament era, there’s even more for us to consider, like What Works has he done returned to Jesus at this moment, what God has done for us in Christ, His perfect life, His substitutionary death, his triumphant resurrection, because that the gospel message answers our biggest questions. Can I be loved? Welcomed, accepted, even despite who I am? And what I’ve done? Can I call on a holy God to deliver me considering how unholy and unrighteous I am? Because the cross reconciles a righteous judge? who declares innocent, the unrighteous? How can that possibly happen? At the cross, when Jesus takes our place, he takes the punishment for our sin, and we take his welcome as beloved children of God. The Gospel proves his love for us, which is what sustains us in hope. That’s why David, verse six, spreads out his hands before the Lord in prayer, and acknowledges his thirst to God. It says, though, he’s saying, I know that there is hope here, and here, only. This is the only place I can go to quench my deepest spiritual thirst. Do you know that thirst is a really important word in the Bible actually shows up a lot. And at some pretty crucial moments. In fact, we thirst. We thirst a lot. Think of the Samaritan woman at the well, whom Jesus encounters. And he asked her for water because he’s thirsty at the time. And again, this little conversation, it becomes clear early on, that this woman is trying to quench that deep spiritual thirst by sleeping around, and it’s just leaving her even thirst here. And so Jesus says, if you knew who I was, you would ask me for living water, and I would give it to you, and you would never thirst again. Elsewhere, Jesus says, Blessed are those who first Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will be satisfied, filled. If we’re seeking after the deep things of God, we will be able to drink our fill. That’s the promise we have revelation 2217 couldn’t read for us earlier. This is almost the last sentence of the Bible. It’s like three before the end. Let the one who is thirsty, come and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. We don’t have to thirst anymore. We don’t have to thirst anymore because of John 19 Verse 20. Eight. I’ll have it up on the screen because it’s pretty easy to remember. If you know the seven sayings of Jesus from the cross, you’ll know that this is one of them. As he’s hanging there, he says, I thirst. I thirst. Jesus thirsted. So we could drink our fill. He took our place, there’s the substitution, I’ll be thirsty. You drink in abundance, and never thirst. Again, the same substitution that we would see here in Psalm 143. Jesus, His enemies pursued him, they crushed him to the ground, they made him dwell in darkness, like those long dead turns out, he was not dead for long. But he took David’s place, he experienced all of that the tomb, so that we wouldn’t have to, ultimately he was hopeless, so that we would never have to be the essence of the gospel is always substitution. Jesus takes our place, we get to take his, that’s what we see. And that’s what we need to remember. Verse five, I remember, I remember, I remember, that’s the remedy. God does love me. That’s 100%. Guaranteed. And the proof is in the cross. If you know only one verse in Scripture, it’s probably this one, For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish will have eternal life. John 316. That’s the controlling thought. Okay, that’s, that’s the primary thought in our whole operating system. God loves me. I know it’s true, because I saw what he did for me in Christ. I know that’s true. So we may be in circumstances where we’re going, God, I don’t know what you’re doing. I don’t know why I’m in this. I don’t know what you’re doing. But I know what you’ve done. And I know what you will do. In the end. Those two are guaranteed. I might be in hard circumstances you might be in hard circumstances right now grief, and pain and loss and loneliness and anxiety. You might have put yourself out there on Instagram, and you didn’t get any likes, and all he got was a rude comment from the mean girl. God’s using that so that you will feel thirst and turn to the living water. Stop trying to satisfy yourself with what amounts to saltwater, which will just leave you thirst year in the end anything but Christ himself. So let’s drink deeply of the gospel. How do we do that? How do we respond last section, the response it’s almost as though we’re crying out to God God do love me. Please love me even now let’s look at the rest of the Psalm verses seven to 12 Answer me quickly, Lord, my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go for you I entrust my life rescue me for my enemies, Lord for a hide myself and you teach me to do Your will for you are my God. May your good spirit lead me on level ground? If your namesake Lord preserved my life in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble and your unfailing love silence my enemies destroy all my foes for I am your servant
Alright, so having repaired the foundation fixed the crack David begins the rebuilding process in his life and in a lot of ways he’s praying the same prayers of verses one to four but he’s got a different heart has a different meaning now behind them. So he knows God is his only hope. When he gets back to verse seven, answer me quickly or my spirit fails not happen in here. You’re my hope. But he’s overcome his own obstacle. The main obstacle which is his own unworthiness, I can’t call on you. I’m not worthy to be here. Yeah, except now I remember you love me despite my unworthiness. So what is it that he wants especially he wants the reminder of God’s unfailing love. Verse eight, unfailing love it’s a really difficult word to translate. unfailing love is good, by the way, because it’s got the idea of a persistent love a loyal love. In light of what we know the God of the Bible. It really is a covenant love what God’s saying I’ve committed myself to have covenanted with you. It’s like what the marriage covenant is supposed to be until death should part us and death doesn’t hurt us from God because we just go to be with him. No circumstances are going to part so it’s that kind of covenant love that he’s talking about. That by the way is what Verse 11 is getting at when he prays for your name’s sake, Lord. That’s interesting. That’s not always how we pray today is it for your namesake. It’s interesting right there. He’s not praying for His sake, David. That’s a pretty good shift. We’ve seen that a huge part of our problem is the egoism of expressive individualism, of being obsessed with yourself. So right there, the fact that he’s going, it’s not about me, it’s about you, Lord, is a key shift. But there’s more than that. What does it mean when he prays for your name’s sake, Lord. So last week, we talked about the fact that that word NAME is shorthand for God’s character, who God is. So what is David praying here, he’s saying, David, is pray, saying, God be true to who you are, to who you revealed yourself to be. act in line with your revealed character, Lord, specifically, in light of a covenant you’ve made with your people. This is a shocking thought. But it’s true. God by covenanting, with his people, by those who trust in him has, in one sense, bound his honor to us. Because if he doesn’t make good on the promises he’s given us. He will dishonor himself. That’s the prayer. Right? Why do we go to God and prayer because he must deliver us because he’s promised to deliver us. If we belong to him, by grace through faith. Now, I got a really big caveat. He must deliver us, ultimately, and on His terms, that’s key. Because as soon as you get the Lord, I need to deliver me now on my terms, that’s not a promise in Scripture. So he’s not breaking any promises when he does not come through on that He will deliver you ultimately, and on His terms, but he must deliver you ultimately on his term, or else he would be faithless, and unrighteous. And guess what? You don’t have to worry about that. God is neither one of those things that won’t happen. So we have this guarantee, I know he will keep his promises to me. Spurgeon one more time says it like this. And it’s so important. He says, Do not look to your hope, but to Christ, who is the source of your hope. That’s the difference right there. That’s the proper response. To focus on your feelings to focus on the absence of hope is to remain depressed. What we need to do is focus on Jesus, the gospel, the fact that God will deliver us for the sake of his name, and glory and honor, He has delivered us already. In fact, he defeated sin, and Satan, death and darkness, finally, on the cross, he has been victorious over them already, and He will deliver us. We live in the time between the time between it’s so hard, isn’t it? You know, it reminds me of let’s go back to the Exodus again, God brought his people out of Egypt, out of slavery, much like he brought us out of slavery to sin. And eventually, they got to the promised land, but they wandered in the wilderness for a bit. We’re in the wilderness. He’s delivered us out of sin and death, but he has not delivered us into glory, yet. That’s coming. The time between his heart that’s, that’s what makes sense of verse 12. Any of you have a hard time when you read verse 12. As you were reading in preparation for today, it’s hard to swallow, would you destroy my foes? That doesn’t sound like gospel love, necessarily. Now, our primary enemy is spiritual, that’s so important to remember. But in the time between that could be real humans also, who are our enemies. And when the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, the Egyptians were real enemies at that point. If you were a victim of human trafficking, you would have every right to pray this prayer of Your traffickers. I know that’s hard to hear. And again, the victim would not be saying I am sinless, but I’m blameless in this at least. It’s a hard but true thought that God can’t rid the world of wickedness without reading it of wicked people. Which means he’s either got to get the wickedness out of us or to get the wicked people out of the world. Those are the only two options and so those who won’t turn from their sin who won’t repent and turn to Jesus, there is only one option we talked a lot about this in our series last fall, people got killed so I won’t belabor the point you can go back and listen to that. But one caveat before we continue, we’re gonna look in a lot at verse eight. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I put my trust in you. I don’t want us to be confused. used about the let the morning bring me word. God bringing his unfailing love to us in the morning does not mean he’ll rescue you tomorrow. Again, that’s not the promise, the promise is that he will love you tomorrow, even today, not that he’ll deliver you necessarily He will deliver us finally on the final day, and he might leave us in hard circumstances, the ones that are causing us despair. For some time, we’re in a mental struggle, but he loves us throughout them. That’s the point. I just give you as an example grief persists, doesn’t it? Like that’s not one that you just get out of? Oh, I don’t miss the person anymore. Of course not. That is a wound that never fully closes in this life. But we can trust God, still. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you so fully that you can overflow with love to him and to your neighbor. In fact, like you want proof of this look at Paul and his thorn. Paul, the apostle Paul like pretty tight with God, right. And he says three times I prayed, take this thorn from me. He even says this thorn is a messenger of Satan. So this is an enemy, right? It was also a messenger of love, sent from the Lord. Because the Lord subverts all of Satan’s purposes to his own ends. It was to keep Paul from pride to keep him from conceit. God may leave us in there for some purpose that we don’t know. It’s just that that despair doesn’t get the final word. And so we have that controlling thought in our mind, which will shape our feelings slowly but surely bringing us back to hope. And we’ll certainly shape our actions and the actions we got to talk about, right, because we might say our responses to cry out God, do love me act toward me, according to your covenant love. So we remember the gospel, that’s the remedy. And then we remind ourselves of the remedy. That’s really the response. We preach the gospel to ourselves. But that’s not all we do. Because David pray some other things. I’ve skipped over a lot of verses seven to 10. Look at some of the things he prays show me the way I should go. Teach me to do Your will lead me on level ground. Anytime you see that in Scripture, by the way, it means lead me in such a way that I don’t stumble, and sin in other words, so this is not a passive response. God loved me. I’m just gonna sit here until you do kind of thing gospel. faithfulness never is passive. Yes, it is all of grace. Absolutely. But that doesn’t make it passive. But as Paul saying, Philippians two will work out your salvation, you work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Why? Because it’s God who works in you, too willing to act according to His good pleasure. So there’s an act of obedience. Again, a taking by the hand, leading your soul back to the gospel and to gospel living. We had almost summed it up like this, here’s your main idea. You
want the takeaway from today, you’ve heard it before, practice what you preach. Except that mean it a little differently. This doesn’t mean don’t be a hypocrite. That’s true, too. Okay? That’s just not what I’m talking about today. Practice what you preach. In other words, practice the truth that you’re preaching to yourself. Remember what God has done for you, and then ask Him to show you what you should do for him. How do I respond in light of the gospel, and this is really important, by the way, because if you’ve struggled with depression, ever, you know that it leads to paralysis. Like sometimes the hardest thing in the world is just getting out of bed. And so it may be Lord, show me what I should do. Get up, take a shower, get dressed. That’s a good start. Let’s do that today. But we got to figure out how we respond to practically and that’s what I want to leave you with as we go from here. I don’t know you, I don’t know where you are unnecessarily at this level. But I know that the Lord would have you be a doer of the word and not just a hearer of it. So how is God going to have you respond? Today? I got a few words for a few different groups here. For all of us, though. First of all, a response is pray like this. Right? Pray like this prayer right here. God gave us the songs so that we would have words to say when we don’t know how to pray. There is not a feeling in your heart that does not find expression somewhere in the book of Psalms. And so when you’re going I don’t know what to do with this read until you find it. We have to learn to speak Psalms fluently. It was said of Augustine that his second language was Psalms and That’s good. That’s how we should speak to it should just flow out of us. But notice, I didn’t just say talk like this, but pray like this. That is another key part of our responses. You bring this to God. You pray Your heart is the very first series I pray. I preached here at Cityview, in fact, was praying your heart, we looked at the Psalms and how to express those different feelings to God, you can go back, you can find it on our website, listen to that, if you got questions about it, second group, the church speaking to all of you, as a community, in particular, we talked a lot about the importance of community last week didn’t mean so yes, you got to bring this to God. Absolutely. But you should be bringing it to others as well. We saw last week, it is not good for us to be alone. It is not good for us to do this by our selves. So like youth, let me talk to you for a moment. If you’re Gen Z. We’ve talked a lot about a lot of stats that are not real encouraging. If any of them describe you, have you talked to your parents about it. If you talk to a teacher, if you talk to a pastor, your disciple, for that matter. And on the flip side, parents, have you asked your kids, do you have this kind of open conversation with them. But it’s not just for families, this is for the church, because this is the primary family, as we talked about last week, ask each other. Like this is what we should be doing. As a church, we must be the sort of community where people can open up about their struggles. How do we treat the suffering? That is a great test of us as a church? How do we treat the suffering, you know, the default mode for treating sufferers? among religious people? Job’s friends, right. That’s what religious people do. That’s not good. We don’t want to be those people. So we’re going to have to work ourselves out of the default mode and back into a gospel mode. Do you stay away from people with mental health struggles? Would they be welcomed in your community group? Or is that too much? I don’t have time for that. I don’t have the energy for that. Because I got news for you. That doesn’t look like Jesus. Jesus was like demonized person, let’s go religious person. Not so sure. Come back to me when you know you got problems with be like Jesus here as a church and walk into the mess. Third, group, seekers, skeptics, you’re here you’re questioning Christianity, two steps for you. The first one is verse two. You got to get yourself to verse two, you need to recognize and acknowledge that you are not right before God that you have messed up. You need to take personal responsibility by no longer tolerating yourself as you are. That’s the bad news. Then you need to get yourself diversify. That’s step two. That’s the good news. What are God’s works? So acknowledge you’re not right before God, but then figure out how to get right with God. That’s the gospel. What has he done? Maybe you read the gospels. Maybe that’s your step. Today, starting Matthew, read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, read it and community even better, keep coming to church, keep joining us, maybe you’re gonna go 10 Explore, you’re gonna set up a time to talk with me, you’re gonna get find a book to read. What’s your action step as you walk out of here today, every one of you. Because you need to practice what you preach. So ask God to show you the way you should go. What’s his will for you right now? And especially if you’re struggling with feelings of depression, and despair, and dismay, is he calling you to talk to somebody about this? Maybe it’s the prayer team. Afterwards, Mark, and Betsy will be up here. They’d love to pray with you. Maybe it’s a pastor, maybe it’s a counselor. You need help finding a counselor, I’m happy to do that. Maybe it’s your community group, your journey group, maybe it’s just one on one. Where do you need to address a crack in your foundation? Like where is despair leaking in? And how can the gospel patch it? Or maybe you need to take a concrete. Step two, remember to remind yourself, maybe in light of everything we were talking about, even the last three weeks ago, I’m just gonna be off social media for a while or forever. I’m not gonna post selfies anymore, because I know what I’m trying to do and I know the feeling I have afterwards. Or maybe you just need to go outside. Like the Lord put us in a garden for a reason. It’s really good for your mental health. Just take a walk. And better yet, take a walk with friends because maybe you just need to be with people who will speak gospel truth to you. George Molar, that great hero of a bygone century, said “the first great and primary business which I ought to attend every day is to have my soul happy in the Lord. The most important work the most important thing I do each day is to get my soul happy in the Lord in the gospel.” He did not say happy in my circumstances. There may be rough circumstances where you feel sad or depressed, but you can always be happy still in the Gospel, preach the gospel of yourself. And then practice what you preach, live in light, that glorious gospel truth. Let’s pray.
Father, we pray that You would help us even now to remember how much you love us the cost of your love for us that it costs you the blood of your own son, the only truly righteous, perfect human who ever lived. That He thirsted for us so that we wouldn’t need to thirst any longer. And Lord, as we remember, would you quench our deep spiritual thirst? Would you get our souls happy in you even now, even if we’re in the midst of the most unbearable circumstances, having the reminder that you love us that you will love us to the end that you will deliver us in the end? That that would serve as a ballast, an anchor for our souls that we might persevere? And then show us what we should do teach us to do your will or what does it look like to obey in light of the gospel today? By your good spirit direct every one of us we pray for the sake of your name, amen.