On August 29th, 2014, I underwent triple bypass surgery…4 weeks ago today. I really never worried about the surgical procedure itself. I knew it would be successful. What concerned me was the recovery. I had no baseline, no previous experience with a major surgery to base my recovery on. Don’t get me wrong, I have had numerous surgeries, just never one that brought my mortality in to question.
I found myself worrying about how difficult the recovery might be…what I was going to feel like coming out of surgery…how much pain would I be in as a result of the incision and the breastplate being cut?…would I still have the breathing tube in place?
I found myself becoming overwhelmed by these thoughts; my anxiety was growing. I realized that I needed to address these thoughts or run the risk of sliding into depression.
Then the Lord brought to my remembrance an old saying from my days as an athlete. I played high school and college football and I also coached high school and college football. So, I was very familiar with the phrase, “No pain, no gain”! The Lord helped me realize that I was spending too much time focusing on the “pain” and not enough on the “gain”.
Which brings me to our text: “Psalm 42:5-6 – Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. 6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar.”
Biblically, the cure for depression is to hope in God…I found this to be true. As I began to focus on Him…His goodness…His mercy…His love for me…my thoughts turned to previous promises the Lord had given me that were all yet future…promises regarding my family and our church. He began to restore my hope! I set goals for things that I wanted to yet accomplish; and my anxiety was washed away in a flood of hope. The key was to remember and rest on His promises.
If you find yourself being overwhelmed, susceptible to depression and anxiety, then my friend you need a healthy dose of hope! But not just any hope…hope in God! He is the only one who can turn depression into gladness and anxiety into reassurance. Having hope in anything else but God is at best false hope or a manufactured hope.
In Psalm 42 and 43, King David encourages us that if we will hope in God, we will at some point be able to praise Him for the help of His countenance. The Hebrew construction of the phrase “help of His countenance” is very interesting. The Hebrew word for “help” embodies the themes of deliverance, victory and prosperity. While the word translated “countenance” means His presence or person.
In other words, our hope is restored as we become intimately familiar with His presence and person. When we hope in God we experience deliverance and victory over our fear, disappointment and apprehension.
The thought is that God’s face is never marked by disappointment. When He looks upon us, it is with love and mercy. Every Jew knew the “priestly benediction”: “The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” – Num. 6:24-26. The best solution to disappointment is to see the face of God as He smiles upon us.
Verse 6 of Psalm 42 reminds us that we must remember Him when our souls are cast down.
“6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember You.” When you feel miserable, when you feel discouraged, when you are carrying a heavy burden, the worst thing you can do is to leave God out of the picture. To remember the past and forget God is to encourage discouragement. Our only help in the present and hope for the future is God.
In the midst of depression and discouragement realize that God is thinking about you! Jeremiah 29:11 says, “11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” His thoughts toward you are ALWAYS of peace and not evil…even if you have been fighting against Him! His thoughts about you even encompass your future and will result in hope on your behalf.
As Christians, we have a “lively” or living hope (1 Pet. 1:3), a blessed hope (Titus 2:13) and a reasonable hope (1 Pet. 3:15). It is Jesus Christ who is our hope (Col. 1:27 and 1 Tim.1:1).
Do you want to partake in this kind of hope? Do you want to experience hope that encompasses your future? Do you want to have a “living hope”, a “blessed hope” and a “reasonable hope”?
Then make Jesus your hope! Invite Him to be your Savior and Lord today!
Rom. 10:9-10 tells us, “9that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Do this and you will ensure your future…that is my hope for you!
In the words of the old hymn: “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus name!”