Monday, October 29, 2012

Dealing with Disappointment, Discouragement, Depression, & Despair

Sometime ago, I came across a wonderful truth as I was reading Psalm 27:13.  Read it a couple times and let it sink in.

"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living."  (NASV) 

David, in one short verse of only 23 words, has given us the reason and the cure for despair, discouragement, disappointment, and depression.  Essentially what he is saying is that all of these “d” words are caused by another “d” word.  That word is none other than “disbelief”.  You see, disbelief in God’s promises and in God’s goodness and especially in God’s intentions toward us cause us to be overwhelmed whenever our circumstances move out of the realm of being acceptable and comfortable. 

Things often don’t work out quite the way we had hoped and expected and we become disappointed.  If our disappointment isn’t checked as unnecessary baggage it quickly can turn into discouragement.  And discouragement left to itself, over a period of mere hours, has a tendency to snowball into depression and depression is simply the precursor to despair.  And where the problem all started was the fact that things didn’t work out the way we had hoped and expected.  Well, if things don’t work out the way we had hoped or expected it is because the way we had hoped and expected was not the best way.  It was inferior and not in accordance with God’s best for our lives.  Thus to be disappointed in your circumstances is really nothing less than to disbelieve that God is sovereign in and over your life or that He is sovereign but truly doesn’t have your best interest in mind. Thus, the cause or root of despair is disbelief in the promises, goodness, and intentions of the LORD toward you.

Now let’s turn our attention to the cure of despair, depression, discouragement, and disappointment.  If disbelief is the cause then we might assume that belief is the cure as well as the prevention for these dreaded “d” words.  And that assumption, according to this verse, would be correct.  Listen again to what the psalmist says:  “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”  In other words, apart from the belief that you and I, personally, will see and experience God’s goodness in the midst of our circumstances this side of glory we would have no reason not to despair.  But, because of God’s great promise to work all things together for good in the lives of His children and God’s great intention to make us like His Son and God’s great love for us, so visibly demonstrated in the delivering up of His Son to the cross for our sake—we have no reason not to believe that we will see His goodness and thus we have no reason to fall into despair.

But to take the thought of Psalm 27:13 and extend it out even further—I think we can also understand it this way and be theologically and biblically correct.  “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I was seeing the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”  You see, regardless of where, what, when, how, and why—you and I as God’s people are seeing and experiencing His goodness right now.  And its only as you believe this that you can face all the challenges and indeed the burdens of life in a way that does not lead down the dreaded and despondent path of disappointment to despair. 

Furthermore, it is only as you believe this truth that you will obey verse 14 which instructs us to:

"Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD."
I wish I could say to you that I have this down pat and never suffer from discouragement.  The fact is I still do but the good news is that I’m getting better.  And the reason for this is not me and my growing faith as much as it is Him and His constant faithfulness to His promises, His kindly intentions, and His ever-present love.  I hope you’re growing in this area too.



Mark Waite said...

Thank you for reminding me of this truth!

Bethany Waite said...

Thank you for this truth!!!

Pursuing the Glory of Christ as though He were the most important pursuit in all the world--Because He Is!

" Looking for the Blessed Hope and the appearing of The Glory of our Great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." Titus 2:13