There are times in our life when we feel like we are going down for the third time; when we feel like we are in a slippery bog, or sinking in a muddy pit. There are times we feel despaired and don’t even know what to think. We don’t feel inspired, motivated or particularly spiritual. We feel overwhelmed with our life circumstances or disappointed in ourselves. We may be in direct conscious rebellion against God, or we may have been subtly drawn into a pit of self, of discouragement, or of worldliness.
You may think this can’t be me! I have a relationship with God. I am not supposed to feel this way. You are not alone. Prophets of God, kings and even His Son have felt this way!
Voices from the Pit
Jonah was outright rebellious to God. He refused to obey God’s command to call the Ninevites to repentance. He found himself in the pit of a big fish’s belly. He says in Jonah 2:1: “From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”
Elijah, a prophet of God fell into despair and depression. This took place after he was a part of witnessing God bring fire from the sky to light a sacrifice in a spiritual contest with the worshipers of Baal. After this event Elijah collapsed in fear and depression. He literally asked God to take his life.
We read of his despair in 1 Kings 19:3-5, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”
King David felt this way numerous times in his life. Many of the psalms attest to David’s times of deep discouragement.
In Psalm 13, David was so discouraged he charged God with forgetting him. He cried out: “How long O Lord, will you forget about me…”.
In Psalm 42, David recognizes and admits that his soul is troubled and downcast within him. He feels forgotten by God, and as if he is mourning all the time. He is depressed, discouraged and overwhelmed by life.
“I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? … Why are you cast down O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. “Psalm 42:9-10
Again in Psalm 55, we see David feeling full of anguish, fear and feeling like he just wants to run away from it all.
“My heart is in anguish within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest… Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice. He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me…” Psalm 55: 4-6, 17-18
In the Garden of Gethsemane we see a very touching picture of Jesus wrestling with facing the burden of carrying the sins of the world and dying for them. The scriptures describe what he was feeling as anguish, distress, feeling like he was dying, and even so stressed he sweat drops of blood. Jesus cried out to God in His time in the garden and on the cross as he bled out and died.
“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow —to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.” Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:36-39 HCSB
“Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:44
And in the final moments of Jesus’ life we hear the depth of the pain He felt from being separated from God.
“From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
A Common Thread
We are all in the depths, the pit or the “slough of despond” at one time or numerous times in our lives. During those times it is important to be aware of two things: where you are and that God is near. Self – awareness is important in our life. We may not figure it all out but to be in touch with what we are feeling is good. We, like the people in these passages of scripture, need to realize when we are in trouble, regardless of the cause, and speak out to God.
The common thread in these accounts is the believer’s innate movement toward God. Whether out of anguish, frustration, despair, or hope they cried out to God. And – He responded to them with power, mercy and love.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:5-6