«For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to the grave. I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength»
We dedicate the month of November to the most globally widespread mental health problem: depression. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) data, depression affects around three hundred fifty million people. That is to say, 5% of the average citizens (not hospitalized) have suffered depression in the last few months. Moreover, the problem is increasing presumably due to economic pressure, deterioration of relationships, unemployment, natural disasters and hopelessness. Sadly, the prospect of treatment is very limited since 60% of the patients do not have access to professional therapy. To make things worse, depression does not only affect the person in question but also his family and work or study environment. Furthermore, it generates a very high social cost.
Depression is another scourge of the human condition which reminds us of the times we live in. However, the Lord offers us many promises of protection and proof that give us hope in times of suffering.
Today’s verse is an example of the intensity of the suffering that a person goes through. In fact, Psalm 88 in its entirety is an example of the dark reality of life. The famous evangelist Charles Spurgeon said that this Psalm does not have the same poetical structure as the others, but simply denotes the «incoherence of the author’s grief.» The Psalmist talks about thoughts and ideas of death, obscurity and darkness, persecutors and enemies. He also talks about believing that God has abandoned him, the past and present problems that beset him and the absence of his loved ones and friends in the face of discouragement.
But even in the middle of this depressive and dark language, the Psalmist seeks his Creator. He addresses Him «day and night» and begs Him to listen to him (vv. 1, 2). For the second time, he turns to the Lord in the morning as he cries out and presents his prayer (v. 13). He dedicates the rest of the Psalm to his pain.
If at any time you suffer from discouragement and even depression, try to draw the most important lesson from this Psalm: turn to your Creator. Many biblical characters prayed to God during their moments of deepest despair, even if it was only to express their desperation and wish to die. Remember that the Lord can delay His answer, but He always hears your fervent voice as the Psalmist declares, «For I said in my haste, ‘I am cut off from before Your eyes’; nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried out to You» (Ps. 31:22).