When I counsel those who are in depression, or tell me they are depressed, I assure them they are in good company. David, the author of this Psalm, says over and over again that he too is depressed. It is possible to be a devout believer in God and the hope of His promises and still be depressed. I find some comfort in that, because I suffer from depression. There is a phrase from this Psalm “deep calls to deep” (vs 7) that gives me a reason why this is so. Depression comes from a deep place within us, a fundamental discord about our lives and abilities.
Like a slow moving river, depression moves slowly within me, I feel like life itself slows down, because the depths of my soul are being stirred. Depression speaks to the core of my being and tells me I am worthless. Tells me that for all my vaunted skill and training, I still suck at being a good person, at being significant.
David remarks that he remembers the triumphal procession of worship, remembers the heights of the Lord’s presence, and I do too. And perhaps it’s because of such heights that I also know the depths. “But no temptation has overtaken you but what is common to man.” (1 Cor 10:13) The Lord Himself will provide a way of escape. “Oh for the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God” (Rom 10:33) Here is One who will match the depth of my depression with the depth of His riches. My depth of depression calls to the depth of the presence of God. So as the deer pants for water, ever seeking for a stream to slake its thirst, so my soul thirsts for God, in the depths of my soul crying rivers of tears.
My life is bleak, a mere two-dimensional black and white portrait of someone that I used to be. Depression strands us in that wilderness and leaves us desolate. Depression abandons us to the worthlessness of our own thoughts. Depression itself is no good companion and we become stranded in the corridors of our thoughts looking for a way out. As Paul once wrote, “O wretched man that I am, who will save me from this body of death?” Who can?
Deep calls to deep. The depth of our sorrow calls to the depth of God’s love and comfort. This Psalm has no resolution. There is no great triumph at the end that show that David overcame his depression. I think we need to hear that. Depression is a part of who we are, and it forces us to confront the deep parts of us. We would be so stirred if we had no depth. And some of the greatest self-reflection can take place there. But we do so in the knowledge that it is ok. God has not abandoned us. The Valley of the shadow of death is still a place where His rod and staff, his gentle leading and correction, comfort us. We need to traverse the wilderness to experience the wonder of the verdant gardens. Because we feel so strongly in our pain, so too will feel strongly in our worship, a far deeper appreciation for the glory and wonder of God. I would not give up my depression, because it moves me to a profound sense of worship. Depression is but for a season, for God calls to us in our depths, meets us there, walks with us there, and guides us back.
Praise be to God for His glorious gifts! Praised be the Lord!