my soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! [psalm 119:28]
have you ever felt this way?
i have. i have battled with deep and unrelenting depression. i have felt a seemingly unending sadness, a cloud that would not lift. sorrowful to my soul.
what do you do when you feel this way?
i spent too many years isolating, looking to the world for help and hope. if i could just find the key, the right medicine, the right supplement, the right exercise, the right motivational speaker, the right affirmational words, then i would be ok. i wouldn’t feel this sadness.
but it didn’t work. no matter what i did to try to solve this problem, the sadness continued.
why does God allow soul-melting sorrow?
one of my favorite hymns is “i asked the Lord that i might grow”–and i listen and sing it regularly, especially when i feel this kind of sorrow. in the final verse we sing:
“these inward trials I [God] employ/
from self and pride to set thee free/
and break thy schemes of earthly joy/
that thou may’st find thy all in me.”
scripture affirms this theology.
let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. [psalm 51:8 emphasis mine]
he will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. as soon as he hears it, he answers you. and though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. [isaiah 30:19b-20 emphasis mine]
not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. [romans 5:3-5]
God wants us to seek him. in our sorrow and suffering, satan wants us dead, and would have us turn to anything but God, even suicide, to get relief. God does not want this for us. he wants us to turn to him, to cry to him, and be strengthened in him–he is ready to show us grace and mercy!
therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him. [isaiah 30:18]
how are we strengthened? how do we rejoice?
by the living and abiding Word!
i want to implore you, brother or sister–if you are sorrowful, you are not alone. know that God knows you fully, and sees you now at your time of greatest need–he has allowed the suffering so that you might cry out to him, and Jesus is calling to you:
“come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [matthew 11:28-30]