My Women’s Bible Study at church is studying Psalms this year. The speaker who looked at Psalm 102 observed that the author used dramatic verbs to describe his affliction. “My heart is stricken and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread. Because of the sound of my groaning my bones cling to my skin. I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert….I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled y drink with weeping. Because of Your indignation and Your wrath; for You have lifted me up and cast me away. My days are like a shadow that lengthens, and I wither away like grass (v.4-6, 9-10, ESV).”
These conditions describe depression. This description would warrant a psychiatrist’s prescription for anti-depressant medication. Since the psalmist probably didn’t have modern day prescription medications, he turned his attention to God and God’s mercy. He remembered the faithfulness of the Lord to the previous generations. He acknowledged He was dust, and yet worthy of the Lord’s attention. He called on God because God can change things. “They [the works of His hands] will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed (v.26, ESV).” He shifted his focus to the next generation. “The children of Your servants will continue, and their descendants will be established before You (v.28, ESV).”
Adding a practical suggestion for the person struggling with depression today, the speaker suggested that getting through depression is to focus on, “Doing the Next Thing.” That could be to change a diaper, wash the floor, tidy up the kitchen. Work on the daily tasks. Get into God’s word. Listen to God and “Do the next thing.”
As the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 102 did, we can shift our perspective to God and what He’s done and what He will do. We focus on other people, the next generation. Then we address the next thing that needs to be done, starting with the immediate and moving forward.
Focusing on God’s ability to help individuals and nations, produces praise to God and releases hope for impossible situations. He saved the Israelites from being slaves in Egypt. He delivered on His promises to establish them in Canaan. He brought forth a Savior in Jesus Christ. He created a path back to heaven through the sacrifice of His sinless son on the cross for our sins. “You are the same, and Your years will have no end. The children of Your servants will continue (v.27,28a, ESV).” He has our descendants in mind as the events of our lives play out. This eternal perspective offers hope. Somehow every generation has gotten through their tough times and produced the next generation.
The very next thing to be done may be the mundane task of preparing this next generation (our kids) dinner. Start at home. Then include group settings. There is hope and comfort in coming together to worship God. “He looked down from the height of His sanctuary; from heaven the Lord viewed the earth to when the peoples are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord (v22, ESV).” “He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer (v.17, ESV).” “He hears the groaning of the prisoner (v20, ESV).” He takes note of the people when they meet. As the people lift their voices in worship, He hears. Again, this gives hope.
Circumstances can be depressing sometimes. Let us look up, remember how big our God is by what He has done and His merciful nature. His promises endure forever. Let us walk out of our depressed state by doing the next thing. As we do this next thing, and then the next and the next, change happens. Our feelings shift. Our prayers are heard and answers come forth. Our perspective extends to the next generation. We become part of the people created that may praise the Lord forever.