“How long, oh Lord, will the depression grip my soul…”
The Psalmist sets an example for us in his expression of pain. Why is it permissible to bemoan external adversity but not okay to cry out in the internal battle? Why is the external battle something that is done to us, but somehow the internal battle is a weakness or flaw in our own character? I love the Psalms because they are raw about the internal struggles: The depression, the anxiety, the inner demons. And they still made the cut. They made it into the Holy Word of God. It is okay to cry out in despair. And sometimes that despair is not our fault, just like the external tragedies are not our fault. No one says, “well, maybe if you pray enough and have enough faith, you can undo the car accident that killed your wife.” But for some reason, it is entirely permissible to say such things about internal trials. No one is pointing fingers at the lamenting Psalmists. No one is saying, “you must have brought this on yourself.” I have a feeling that God is completely okay with the agony expressed throughout this book. I actually think that it probably delights His heart.
There is certainly a line between wallowing and crying out, but crying out and communicating the agony of internal unrest is not always simply self-indulgence. Sometimes, that is what we are called to do. It is okay to be honest about what’s going on internally. It is also okay not to always have to paint a pretty picture of our lives. Sometimes, our lives seem pretty hideous.
“How long, oh Lord….”
He hears the heartfelt prayers. He sits with us in our pain, and in doing so, He reminds us of His greatness, so we can say, “But I trust your lovingkindness, and my heart shall yet rejoice.” He doesn’t redirect us to His goodness through lectures or chastisement or shame, but through His loving presence in our honest pain. And then our exclamation of His faithfulness is not one of duty, but of deep conviction, “For God has been good to me.”