Explore the Bible Study: The Longing

3:24 PM

Discouragement, despair, depression. This may seem to be an unusual way to end a study of the book of Psalms, but considering the difficulties this world is facing, it might possibly be one of the most important discussions you will have with your group. Psalm 42:1-11 gives us a snapshot of a follower of God who is struggling with holding on to his faith during some of the greatest struggles of his life. I pray that all who dive into LifeWay's Explore the Bible Study: The Longing, will be encouraged as they discover how the psalmist fought his battles with discouragement, despair, and depression.

When you face discouraging times, are you more like Eeyore or Tigger from the Winnie the Pooh stories? This is a question you could use to introduce the session. The following video clip could be used to help illustrate the two extremes as you emphasize how the lessons from the psalmist's life can help us reside somewhere in the middle while striving to avoid either extreme.

You will discover in this week's teaching helps that I have adjusted the approach to the study significantly.

Identify the Symptoms of Discouragement, Despair, and Depression - All of Psalm 42

The Psalmists' response to Discouragement, Despair, and Depression

  1. He didn't quit thirsting for God - Psalm 42:1-2
  2. He remembers - Psalm 42:4 and Psalm 42:6
  3. He preaches to his own soul - Psalm 42:5
  4. He affirms God's love - Psalm 42:8
  5. He sings praises to God - Psalm 42:8
  6. He asks why - Psalm 42:9
  7. He reminds himself what he believes about God - Psalm 42:11
Closing Illustration: Consider using this as a part of your LOOK OUT application.
William Cowper was one of the church's greatest hymn writers, a person mightily used by God. But this gifted composer was not without frequent bouts of deep discouragement, even depression. The first attacks of despair struck him when he was a young man. He was admitted to St. Albans Insane Asylum, where he made several attempts to commit suicide. One of the doctors gave Cowper a Bible, and he began to read it. In learning of the grace of God, he put his trust in Christ and was gloriously saved.

A year after his conversion, Cowper left the asylum and met the famous John Newton who became his pastor and close friend. Newton and Cowper collaborated to publish a hymnal that included many cherished songs, including Newton's "Amazing Grace" and Cowper's "There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood." But despite his conversion and expanding ministry, Cowper still struggled with attacks of depression. These often left him discouraged to the point of desiring death.

His attacks of depression drove Cowper to pursue God more deeply. Out of this soul-racking experience he wrote his famous hymn, "God Moves in a Mysterious Way," a song that expresses an unwavering trust in God. The hymn stands as a testimony to the renewed strength and comfort his troubled heart found in God. Here was a man who experienced great disappointment in life, but he learned to trust God.

Song and information from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nH8ZWF1Ag5k

Some of your group may approach you with more struggles with depression than can be addressed during this session. Here are some helpful articles. Remember to refer someone to qualified Christian professionals if depression has become chronic in a person's life.
Word Version
PDF Version

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