I Will Speak in the Anguish of My Spirit
How should a Christian deal with discouragement and depression? Is it always sinful for a Christian to feel this way? In today’s reading we find Job preferring death over continuing in life as he is presently experiencing it and questioning the justice of God .
Job 9:21–22 (ESV) — 21 I am blameless; I regard not myself; I loathe my life. 22 It is all one; therefore I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’
Job has been accused of sin by his friends, who argue that God is just and would not afflict a righteous person the way God has allowed Job to be afflicted. We, the readers, know that this is not true, but in the whirlwind of his pain, Job has no ability to see this.
Job 9:15,20 (ESV) — 15 Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him; I must appeal for mercy to my accuser…20 Though I am in the right, my own mouth would condemn me; though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse.
How can Job confront God? If he pleads his innocence to God, can God not find sin in him? In 7:17-21, Job agrees with God that he is a sinner, but argues that it seems his burden of suffering is disproportionate to who he is as an insignificant person. In 8:11,16, Job reveals that he has no sense of God’s presence in his life and no confidence that if he prays God would hear him. In 10:20-22, Job declares that his days are few and that the future holds only darkness, shadow, and gloom.
Feelings of injustice, insignificance, hopelessness, and powerlessness – are these not the causes of our depression? In those dark nights of the soul it seems these four companions are all we have. How should we as Christians respond when we find ourselves in such a place?
First, we should “give free utterance to (our) complaint” and “speak in the bitterness of (our) soul.” (It should be noted, that we do this to God and not to one another, as we are so inclined to do.) God knows the weakness of our flesh and the short scope of our understanding. Job only enters into sin when he questions the justice of God’s actions. Like the Psalmist, we should instead cry out in complaint for our condition, but find peace in the holiness and sovereignty of His nature.
Second, we must rest our hearts in what we know rather than what we feel. Job longs for an arbiter between himself and God.
Job 9:33–35 (ESV) — 33 There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both. 34 Let him take his rod away from me, and let not dread of him terrify me. 35 Then I would speak without fear of him, for I am not so in myself.
We have such an arbiter. His name is Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 7:25 (ESV) — 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
As a person living in a fallen world marked by the effects of sin, we will encounter discouragement and depression. We must admit our frailty to God, but we must cling to the knowledge of who God is, and confidently go to Him because of our relationship to Him through Jesus Christ – a promise that runs deeper than our feelings.