“Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men, for He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.” –Ps. 107:15-16
In all honesty, this is a really hard article to write, because my Dad was lost in clinical depression for about six years, and it is one of the hardest things to watch. As his family, we had no idea what to do or how to help him. We wanted to take him out of the situation, but we couldn’t. Psalm 107 describes times like this as “sitting in gloomy darkness and prisoners in darkness.” To me, this describes depression perfectly—in essence, hopelessness.
Now, years down the road, I am a strong person. I have always been a fighter, stubborn enough to make it through any situation; but when stress and pain gets too much, like anyone I end up breaking. Feeling just like my dad did—no hope, no strength, no song left.
Have you been there? It is because I have lived through it and watched someone else’s pain that I understand what I am writing here. Stay with me till the end of this article, because a person can actually learn through hopelessness. More importantly than learning from the experience, we need to remember how to keep our faith during these dark times in our lives.
What is a ‘deepest gloom and prisoners of darkness?’
The hardest part about hopeless is that there is no way out. I think hopelessness comes from having an exhausted heart. Exhaustion means more than just tiredness; it is wondering if you can go on. There is no light, there is no way out and you seem bound in the affliction of the moment. According to Psalm 102, it feels like not sleeping at night but wanting to sleep during the day, gloom and depression, wondering if God is hearing your prayers, not eating, heartbreak, crying, withdrawing, and just “going through the motions.” Psalm 107 outlines three ways that God will pull us out of depression and hopelessness:
1) God is your strength and hope during the hopelessness.
When you are in gloomy times, it is the lack of will, a lack of strength that makes it so hard. Over and over again, God says that He is our strength (Psalm 27:1, 37:39). I am not saying be “fake-ly” strong; I am saying that if you are at the bottom of a well holding onto a rope, don’t let go of that rope. Your heart may only have the smallest amount of strength, but if you call out to God to be your strength, you will find that you won’t give up.
Remember that God himself said that He is a rock for those who seek Him (Isaiah 17:10), so claim His strength every time you want to say “I can’t go on.” God will hear you and will be there lifting you out of the miry clay and putting your feet in a solid place.
2) God is your joy and song in the prison of darkness.
One of the reasons that this time period is so hard is due to the darkness settling in and around our minds. So we need to combat darkness with light. But how do we do that? We do it with joy. Joy is an attitude, something we choose, like gratitude or contentedness. The psalmist said that he would “offer sacrifices of joy,” meaning even when he didn’t want to be joyful, he would choose it (Psalm 27:6, 71:23).
Do you know what someone who is joyful does all the time? They sing! When was the last time you saw someone who was depressed singing their heart out? We sing when we are fighting the heartache or hopelessness, not when we want to stay in it. Sing a new song to the Lord, make it up as you go if you want, or just make a “joyful noise” (Psalm 95) to whatever is playing on the radio. Claim the promise that the “joy of the Lord is your strength” and pray that God puts a song in heart every time you feel the darkness entering your emotions.
3) God is giving you a light at the end of the tunnel. Literally.
This is the moment where anyone who is hopeless will say, “I don’t know if I want there to be hope; maybe it is a train.” That’s okay. When the time comes, when you are ready, after you have rested and healed, the light will come. It will be just a twinkling at first, but as you reach for it, it will grow. God said that “those who have sat in darkness have seen a great light.” Psalm 107:14-16 says God will bring you out of the darkness and gloom, and that the chains that bound you there will be broken. God will be the one holding your hand and guiding you out of the darkness, as Isaiah 48 states: “Your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”
Over and over again, God talks about His desire to free people from prisons and to lead them into light.
There is no way that God will leave you in the despair and hopelessness; He is going to bring you out of it, you can count on it!
In conclusion, this section of Psalm 107 is dealing mainly with our wills, since hopelessness comes from a point of not being able to will yourself into being stronger. When we are in this situation, we need to remember that our job is two-fold—allow the healing and always re-focus on God, no matter what you are feeling. Psalm 107 says that in the end, people who have been through hopelessness and depression will be “saved from their distress… healed… and rescued from the grave.”
Come, reach for your faith again and stand with me even while the heart is hopeless, because 2 Cor. 4:16 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” God has promised you will make it through, so remind your mind who is in charge and hit your knees until the promises of God outweigh the hopelessness of our hearts. God can and will come through for you; just hold on.
Please understand that this article is in no way stating that depression or other mental illnesses do not exist or that one should not seek medical help. I have lived through them and watched others live through them. Please seek help if you are in hopelessness—you don’t have to do it alone and it may take someone coming alongside you to help you come out of it.