Help For The Discouraged And Depressed

1 Samuel 38:3

When Abraham Lincoln practiced law in Springfield, Illinois, he became so despondent that he said,
"I'm the most miserable man in the world."
His family removed knives and razors from the house because of their concern for him.

Great and ordinary people become disheartened and overwhelmed.
John the Baptist, Elijah, Simon Peter, and other people of the Bible faced days of depression.

Some psychologists believe that the leading illness in our day is depression,
which sometimes reaches epidemic proportions.
One out of ten agonize in the depth of despair.
Twenty-five percent suffer from moderate depression; and five times as many women as men
become depressed.
Every church, business or society have those who are no longer on "top of the world."

So today let us look at this universal problem.

We need to discover some reasons for discouragement.

The feeling of total dejection finds its roots someplace.
Why does it happen?

A weak faith allows discouragement to happen.
1 Samuel 27:1 reads, "David said "in his heart" I shall perish by the hand of Saul."
He trembled and admitted that he lacked trust.

God had taken care of him before with the lion and bear that had become his trophies.
Even Goliath had fallen at the feet of David.
Successful days in his life is a matter of biblical history.

David grew older, wiser, and more powerful, and yet, he questioned whether God could save him from Saul,
this half-insane king.

Then troubles break in upon us and may weaken our faith.
But God is still with us.
He has given us Jesus… the Scriptures… the Holy Spirit… prayer… the church.
And yet, faith often seems so fragile.
At such times when faith weakens and seems to find no answer, we become despondent.

Also living with the wrong crowd helps open the door for discouragement.
David faced Saul, saying, "There is nothing better for me than that I speedily escape to the Philistines."
(1 Samuel 29:2)

The Philistines were God's enemies, and they were all so David's.
And yet, David lived among them for 16 months.
Then, they wanted to use David.
The strategy of the devil is to get us in the wrong camp.
He would have us to desert the church – get worldly – then what happens?
Dependency or depression is the likely result.

We surely remember Simon Peter's experience.
And we can remember the story of the trial of Jesus.

During that time, Simon Peter warmed his feet at the enemy's camp-fire.
Soon he denies Jesus, and in his despondency, went out and "wept bitterly."
At least, he did weep.

There are dozens of Christians in every church and countless thousands in every denomination
who have the "disease of despondency" because they have gone over to "the camp of the Philistines."
The camp of the enemy is no place for God's people.
Depression and gloom increase in that place for God's people.

Also, a great loss for setback can bring discouragement.
As David lived among the Philistines, he decided to attack another enemy force nearby.
While he was gone, the Amalekites attacked his campsite and carried away the wives and children of David
and his men.
David's camp city was burned, and he suffered a great loss.

A time of despondency strikes us when we lose what we call our own.
Financial problems, family separations, death and the loss of good health, makes people become despondent.
Floods and earthquakes, and tornadoes, and hurricanes wipe out farmlands and destroy cities.
Fires devour what we have, and depression sets in.
A big loss may open the door to gloom.

Also criticism brings on discouragement.
David's soldiers begin to criticize him when they lost their families and goods.
They blamed David for what the enemy forces had done.
They wanted to stone David.
David became deeply depressed. (1 Samuel 30:6)

A quick way to make another person despondent is to criticize that person.
Nit-pick… find fault… judge… complain… be negative… growl… fuss… fume.
Point out "their flaws" – that will get them, and then they will sink down in the pits.

Mark Twain, a famous humorist of the past, and author, married a radiant Christian.
He began to criticize his wife's faith, her Bible, and her church.
Years passed.

The wife became desperately ill.
During the fatal illness, Mark Twain said, "Dear, have faith.
Trust in the Lord. Believe
She answered, "I can't, you destroyed my faith long ago."

Anyone may be deeply hurt by "nagging" and criticism.
Let us be careful how we deal with our church members, with their families, with our friends,
with our neighbors, and with our loved ones for we will give an account.

If anyone feels the sting of criticism, remember the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes:
"When nature made great writers, she made critics from the left-over chips."

Now let us discover a remedy for discouragement.

This is good news, great and supernatural news for all of us.
We can come out of our desolation and despondency.
Here is the way!

Faith in God is a foundation stone for recovery.
1 Samuel 30:6 says "David encouraged himself in the Lord."

Think about God's greatness.
Think about God's goodness.
Think about God's mercy.
Think about God's forgiveness.
Think about God's power.
Think about God's provisions.

We may trust in the Living Lord.
We may ask Him to renew our faith and trust.

In 1887 Elisha A. Hoffman wrote the hymn, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms."
One verse begins like this:
"What have I to dread,
What have I to fear,
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms."

God offers us the great resources of faith.
He can revive our faith which is a mighty foundation for spiritual recovery.

Also, the resources of prayer may be used.
1 Samuel 30:7-8 says that David asked Abrathar to bring "the ephod."
That was a vest-like garment which was worn by priests when they prayed.
David "inquired of the Lord."

If we have troubles and are despondent, we can also go to the path of prayer.
Many people have been cheered on and encouraged because of prayer.

Like David, we need to pray -- if we want victory over despair.
The hymn, "What A Friend We Have In Jesus" has words to cheer us:
"What a friend we have in Jesus.
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer."

We may tell God all about our troubles.
He wants us to share all of our life with Him.
When we let Him have our burdens, we will be on the road to recovery.
Remember the value of prayer when life starts to tumble in upon us.

Also, we need to go to work.
David got his orders straight from God.
God said, "Go after the Amalekites who have overrun your camp!"
David did not sit down for a "pity-party."
He deployed his forces, all 600 of them, for the task.
He didn't try to do it alone.

Struggle and work have helped God's people get out of despondency.
We do the work which must be done, and ask others to join us.

A football team was losing a game.
They were being slaughtered.
The coach of the losing team kept yelling to the quarterback, "Let George have the ball."

The quarterback screamed back, "George says he doesn't want the ball."

All of us must take the ball and get in the game.
The family needs the cooperation of every member.
The business needs the entire working force to get the job done.
The church needs every member to get involved.
The nation needs all its citizens to contribute to the well-being of the country.

Struggle and work is a vital part of recovery from depression.
As we work, we may discover help from unexpected sources.

The 400 men of David crossed the brook, Besor, leaving 200 exhausted soldiers behind.
As David's 400 soldiers pursued the fleeing Amalekites, they found an Egyptian who had been deserted
by the Amalekites, and had been left to die. (1 Samuel 30)

They gave that deserted man water, bread, raisins, and cake.
He then told David's men where the Amalekites had gone with all the people and possessions of David.
Amazingly, David and his men overtook the enemy forces, and recovered all that belonged to them.

As we go to work, unexpected "breaks", come our way.
Friends help us.
We discover resources that we never knew before.
As we get moving, we will find new help to overcome our downcast feeling.

We must give God the praise for the victory if we want to come out of our extreme depression.
David said in 1 Samuel 30:23: "The Lord hath given to us, have preserved us,
and hath delivered the enemy into our hands
God did it, and David gave God the glory!

Spiritual recovery is on the way!
Let us take it, and celebrate and praise the Lord together.
Since God is triumphant, we can have total recovery.
We have a way out of our depression… our gloom and despondency.
Let us live on "Higher Ground" from this day on.

"I'm pressing on the upward way,
New heights I'm gaining every day;
Still praying as I onward bound,
"Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

Lord, lift me up, and let me stand
By faith on Canaan's tableland;
A higher plane than I have found,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan's darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I'll pray till rest I've found,
"Lord, lead me on to higher ground."
-- Song, Higher Ground

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White