How to Defeat Despair, Discouragement, and Depression


hopelessness The raw, real, unsanitized pages of God’s Word give me permission to live an authentic life. In a world where we are pressured to look a certain way and act a particular way in order to be a part of the crowd, how beautiful it is that God never encourages us to pretend to be something we are not. He unapologetically calls us to change and grow, but that change begins in acknowledging what is true.

Psalm 42 rips open the world of the Psalmist, spilling out his current struggle with depression. I was drawn there this morning. My truth today is that my heart is heavy as I am faced with my mother’s failing memory and the loss of much of her sense of self. And no matter what may be weighing you down today, help is found in the relevancy of this Psalm.

Following is the Psalm intermingled with my loosely interpretive thoughts indicated by italics. I pray it will be a source of help for you today.

As the deer pants for streams of water,

    so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

    When can I go and meet with God?

In the same way that a deer thirsts for the refreshing, life-giving streams of water, my soul, with all my thoughts and emotions, is longing and thirsting for you, God, for a God who is alive and active and is involved in my life. Where can I find you, God?

 My tears have been my food

    day and night,

while people say to me all day long,

    “Where is your God?”

My heart is heavy and tears pour continually from my eyes. To make it worse, my onlookers taunt me by telling me that You, God, are nowhere to be found. They imply that you are not real and that my relationship with You is an illusion.

 These things I remember

    as I pour out my soul:

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.

God, as I pour out my heart and soul to you, I remember how it used to be. I remember the days gone by when I connected with You in my place of worship, the days when You protected me from troubles. I remember the joy, the praise, the sense of celebration and community. I need to reconnect my heart with what has worked before for me: praise, thanksgiving, and being a part of the community of believers. I know I don’t need to isolate myself any longer.

 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.

I’ve got to shake this despair off. I am going to talk to myself and say, “Get it together. Remember what is true. These feelings are just feelings. God is still God. Wake up and put your hope back where it belongs; praise God. He is your personal Savior and your personal God.”

 My soul is downcast within me;

    therefore I will remember you

from the land of the Jordan,

    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.

Even in this despair, God, I remember the amazing times I’ve had with You. I remember the places where I’ve experienced You in your power and beauty.

 Deep calls to deep

    in the roar of your waterfalls;

all your waves and breakers

    have swept over me.

Your Spirit calls to my spirit amidst all the noise of the roaring waterfalls. Although I am longing for the quiet peaceful streams of your presence, all I feel is the breaking waves knocking me over and taking me under again and again. Yet I sense you are speaking to me even in this place.

By day the Lord directs his love,

    at night his song is with me—

    a prayer to the God of my life.

I know You are loving me, all day and all night. I know that You are present, singing Your song over me.

 I say to God my Rock,

    “Why have you forgotten me?

God, You are my Rock, my strength. I am reminding myself of who You are, and yet, I feel as if You’ve forgotten me. My feelings and my faith wrestle with each other, and You are unalarmed, calm, steadfast.

Why must I go about mourning,

    oppressed by the enemy?”

 My bones suffer mortal agony

    as my foes taunt me,

saying to me all day long,

    “Where is your God?”

God, you do realize that my heart is broken? The enemy is oppressing me. I am aching down to the marrow of my bones as my enemies make fun of me and taunt me saying You do not care about me.

 Why, my soul, are you downcast?

    Why so disturbed within me?

Perhaps the enemies are really within me, in my own soul. These voices of doubt, despair, disappointment.

Put your hope in God,

    for I will yet praise him,

    my Savior and my God.

I will tell myself to refocus my heart on God. I will make a decision to hope in Him. He is my rescuer. My Savior. He is my God. My answers lie in Him.

Interestingly, almost as a blow to the enemy who had been tormenting him, the Psalmist sent these words to the worship leader to have them set to music. His journey would be used to help others find their ways through down days. And here we have those words so many years later as a guide to dealing with times of depression.

What worked for the Psalmist will work for you and it will work for me.

Pour out your heart to God. Refocus your heart on hope in God, on who He is. Remember what is true about God from your past experiences with him. Reject the voices of doubt. Don’t beat yourself up for having a bad day or a bad week and yet realize that God wants to help you right where you are and bring you to a place of healing. Connect with other believers. Praise Him. Be thankful.

And then, use it all to defeat your enemies and be a source of help and strength to others. Determine just as the Psalmist did, that you will yet praise Him for there really is no other source of true strength and salvation.


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Categories : Authenticity, Hope


  1. Diane Wall says:

    Thank you again Mikki! This was very timely for me.

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