Spiritual Depression – General Considerations – Psalm 42

In the 1960’s D.Martin Lloyd-Jones had a series of sermons published as a book called ‘Spiritual Depression‘. A Pastor I know recently said it was the best Christian book he had ever read and that it changed his life. As providence would have it, I had an old copy, so, as I read through it I’ll share it too. In between this on-and-off series if you have suggestions for Bible books you would like to see as devotionals, leave a comment and let me know!

Lloyd-Jones writes that spiritual depression¹ is a condition that appears in both the Old and New Testaments, and seems to be one of the major issues that God’s people have to deal with. How they deal with it will be illuminating and instructive for us. 

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

(Psalm 42.5, 11,KJV)

The Psalmist is sharing his woes and it’s suggested that his spiritual depression is due to not being able to gather with others in the public worship of God (vv.2-4). How interesting, that not meeting with other believers to worship God has led the Psalmist to a place of spiritual depression and where he feels that his soul is downcast.

When we face similar periods of spiritual sadness and drought we would do well to turn to the Word to see how to move through this. 

It is always good to start with the Bible, where there is explicit teaching on every condition and it also good to look at examples and illustrations from the same source.

D.Martin Lloyd-Jones, 1964, P.10

The big thing to remember when this kind of feeling comes upon us is this:

It is vital to take the teaching of the Word of God first and foremost.

Feelings, experiences, Janet-down-the-road’s-friend’s-story, all of this must come second to the explicit teaching of the Word of God and the principles therein.

If something we feel or experience doesn’t line up with the Bible, we shouldn’t put any stock into it as a method for moving through the times of spiritual struggle that we may be feeling. Periods of feeling like this will affect us all. There will be days where we don’t see the sanctifying process and progress at work in our lives. There will be days when we feel like we are going backwards. There will be says when we doubt. There will be days where our behaviour is even more un-Christian than before we believed. We see great heroes of the faith in the Bible experience periods of feeling like this, but the key is to hope in God, His Word gives us an abundance of reasons to do so and to know that we shall yet praise Him for the help he brings. 

When we do this, our attitude and feelings are supernaturally changed in His perfect timing to a point where we can say I shall yet praise Him, for He is the health of my life, and my God. We will, simply, move from knowing He will help us, to knowing He has helped us.

¹ – Not to be confused with the mental health struggle of clinical depression

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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