The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 25:11-20 Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances. Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise reprover to a listening ear. Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest Is a faithful messenger to those who send him, For he refreshes the soul of his masters. Like clouds and wind without rain Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely. By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded, And a soft tongue breaks the bone. Have you found honey? Eat only what you need, That you not have it in excess and vomit it. Let your foot rarely be in your neighbor’s house, Or he will become weary of you and hate you. Like a club and a sword and a sharp arrow Is a man who bears false witness against his neighbor. Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot Is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble. Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda, Is he who sings songs to a troubled heart.
Like many of you, I have gone through periods of life in which my heart was so weighed down with burdens, that one more troubled thought or circumstance seemed as if it may have been too much to bear. Speaking for myself, in those moments, attempts by loved ones and friends to comfort, and ease my soul's anguish through “cheering me up”, often proved to be more of a hindrance than not. While I have never felt suicidal, for some, the chains that keep them in their depression drag them down to depths where no attempts to encourage, or make merry have any good effect. Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda, Is he who sings songs to a troubled heart. Matthew Henry says that “We take a wrong course with them if we think to relieve them by being merry with them, and endeavoring to make them merry; for it adds to their grief to see their friends so little concerned with them; it puts them upon ripping up the causes of their grief, and aggravating them, and makes them harden themselves in sorrow against the assaults of mirth.” He calls attempts such as this, absurdities. Ecclesiastes 3:4 states that there is “A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.” Jesus Himself was a Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Time does not permit me to dive fully into the issue of depression, its root causes, and deal with every biblical text regarding troubled hearts. But I will ask this question: When you are depressed, when you are sorrowful, not simply having an off day, or suffering from fatigue, or on the tail end of a bad day at work, but really down, like, in the valley of the shadow of death down, low, what do you need in that moment? Do you need to be made merry? Do you need to laugh? Or do you need something else? Remember the great reformer, Martin Luther? This man found himself in the blackness of sorrow often. On one such occasion, it was his realization that he was justified by God through faith in Jesus Christ, not by penance or good works, that lifted him out of the pit. He realized that his standing before God, and by extension, the course of his whole life, was in God’s hands. His salvation depended upon God who has mercy, not upon his choice. The trials that came to him in life, were from his heavenly Father who loved him, and meant them for his good. Psalm 30:1-5 I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my enemies rejoice over me.  O LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.  O LORD, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit.  Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name.  For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning. I submit to you this morning, that what we need in times of sorrow, isn’t vain attempts by well meaning friends to cheer us up, but instead to cry out to the Father. He has given us the Comforter. He fills us with the Spirit, and causes us to bear fruit, joy being one type. We have a Savior, who has rescued us from the pit! Let us be those who mourn in its due season, with hope. Let us comfort those in mourning with hope, pointing the downcast and broken hearted to Christ. Are you troubled in spirit? Cry out to God for help, and He will lift you out of sheol. Are you depressed in your soul? Cry out to your savior, and He will keep you alive! Respond to His grace with songs of praise, and shouts of thanksgiving! There is a season for everything under the sun, so be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Praise God! He has seen fit to allow you to join in the sufferings of His Son Jesus.
Let us cry out to God for mercy. Let us confess how we often suffer in ways that do not honor Him, and thank Him for the trials He uses to refine us. Let us kneel.
Heavenly Father, You are good towards Your people. Your lovingkindness endures forever. Your mercies are new every morning. Father, we are often like sheep who have been cast down, unable to pull ourselves up out of the miry pit we fall into. Darkness, sadness, and full blown depression often engulf us. Father, we scramble for solutions, and reasons, and ask “why me? why do I feel this way? Why go on living?” Father, help us to have eyes of faith, that we may properly evaluate our circumstances in light of Your Son Jesus. Help us to remember Christ, that it is His strength that saves, that He was acquainted with grief as well, and now sits as our Great High Priest who understands our weaknesses. Help us to remember that we are the sheep of His pasture, and that the Shepherd laid down his life for us, and walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. Father, please forgive us for sins that entangle us, and lead us to feel hopeless. Please forgive us for doubts, and vain attempts to seek peace outside of Your Son Jesus. Please forgive us for worldly attempts at comforting friends and family. Father, please help us to be like the Apostle Paul, who cried out “What wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” It’s in Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Listen now to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. | Titus 2:11-14
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 10/28/18 liturgy of Sovereign King Church. Written by Aaron Sabie.)