Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Hope vs. Despair

posted by Ruth Graham

Have you ever been depressed? Low? Lower than a “lizard’s belt buckle”, as my mother used to say. “Cast down”, as King David said in Psalm 42.

David wrote he cried day and night while men taunted him. He thought back to the good times which made him feel worse. He uses the word,  “disturbed” – his usual joy and peace were in shambles.

If we are honest, think we all experience such times,. We live in a fallen world with evidence of that reality all around us as a passenger jetliner is shot out of the sky by a missile, as war looms in the Middle East,  fires rage out West, refugees flee,  flood waters rise, children are abused, evil seems to be willing…  It’s tough out there and getting tougher day by day. It is so easy to feel despair these days – to feel powerless and get angry.

As we go through the dark times we long for God to come deliver us as David did when he wrote, “My soul pants for you, O soul thirsts for God…when can I go and meet with God?” Perhaps you, too, have felt like David. He wanted a meeting with God to sort it out!  He wanted God Himself.

David poured out his heart to God – not his neighbor, friends, therapist, spouse – but to God. No substitute. (I am not saying that having a neighbor, friends, therapist, spouse to talk to isn’t important – far from it – God gave us fellow human beings to helps us. He placed us in communities for a reason.)

But usually we sort of stop there talking to others seeking their advice and opinions. And just maybe when all else fails we might talk to God as a last resort. Not David. He went to God first and poured out his heart. He complained freely, boldly – he told God just how he felt!

Then he told himself to place his hope in God and determined to praise Him as his Savior and his God. (Notice the personal pronouns – his Savior and his God.) When David is feeling low he decides to remember God.

How many times when we are low, depressed and angry do we throw God into the mix and get mad at Him, too? Or act like a petulant child and decide we just won’t talk to God anymore? So there!  Oh, yes, there are times when David acts like a child. David vents his anger and frustration towards God – God can handle it. He is much bigger than all of it and there is nothing we can say He hasn’t heard before. He is the safest One to talk to. David tells God exactly how he feels.

But he doesn’t stop there. He makes a decision. A decision to hope and praise – an act of the will. I doubt seriously if David felt like hoping or praising. Maybe he wanted to wallow in self-pity, or kill someone, run away, hide, get drunk… But he decided to hope and praise. Hope isn’t wishful thinking. It is confident expectation. Praise isn’t just saying ‘thank you”. It is worship.

That was David’s way out of despair. It is our way out too.

Despair or hope? Praise or complaint? Fear or peace? It’s our choice.

  • Joe Armfield

    I used to live just down the road from you guys in Montreat, but that was many, many years ago.

    Ruth, thank you for this great article on depression – it is so timely for me. My wife of 31 years lost her battle to cancer a few months ago. My 24 year old son lost his mom, his job, and his girlfriend all in the same month and can’t seem to pull out of it. He is angry and won’t listen to anything I say to him – he won’t go to church with me, he won’t do anything. He is a believer but now it seems that he wants nothing to do with God. It is so hard to watch your kids struggle this way and not be able to help. It is starting to wear on me, but all I can do is to keep praying that God will do a work in his heart.

  • Renee Freeman

    Bunny, glad to see you are well and writing! I also went to that “elite boarding school in NY.” I often wondered what happened to you. It certainly had a traumatic ending for me.

  • waredisqus

    Hi! This is my first time to read your article. I would like to thank you so much for being brave enough to address this issue of depression, telling God how I feel, and choosing to praise and worship. David is one of the characters of the Bible that I most identify with, mainly because my life has been filed with a lot of wars, a lot of depression, and a lot of praising Him for who He is rather than focusing on my “wars”. There really has been only two safe places I had access to in the 33yrs I have been saved, a Christian counselor, and a Christian pysch dr. Both of them encouraged me to face I needed to go on anti-depressants. As a bible teachers and believer I felt defeated, ashamed, an embarrassment. It took me almost a year before I would actually take the meds consistently. Currently, my situation is pretty bad and I had shut down with the Lord again (I lost my home in a legal battle I was sure I would win), homeless, moved in with friends). Through songs I have been hearing (that I have never herd before, sermons, and this article) the Lord has been speaking to me to have productive prayer times with Him, that I have backed away in disappointment and depression, that He wasn’t to Father me. It was just the other day, I cried out to Him “what is wrong with me,” “why cant I put my words together in prayers!” “Please help me”…”don’t cast me away,” …I am out of breath and exhausted.” I am till ministering to others, discipeling one person, and counseling others with the word of God, but when I get alone, I cant pray, I memorize scriptures, but when I close my eyes to pray, my mind wanders, or I say nothing at all. This article has helped me. Thank You. I love the Lord, there is nothing I would rather do than serve the Lord, to be in the center of HIs will, being His child…thank you Ruth

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