The Common Cold of the Soul

Well, the cold season is here. The winter months often bring with them the various coughs and colds that seem to return with the same consistency of the season itself. But that is not the only thing that the winter months seem to bring. They are also often the most difficult of times for those who are prone to struggle with depression. Many people find it easy to get down in the dumps when the weather is bleak and they feel cooped up inside. I think Wayne Mack put it well when he called depression, “the common cold of the soul.” 

Several years ago, Rick Hensley preached a sermon from Psalm 77 entitled “Comfort For the Troubled Soul” which I thought was very helpful at the time and I saved my sermon notes. I have adapted his outline a bit and built on it as I have tried to apply it in my own life. I reproduce it here and trust it will be helpful to some now also. The application points are as follows:

  • Recognize that the cure of your soul will be found in  God and in his faithfulness (v. 1-10; cf. Ps. 103:1-5)
  • Seek God personally (Notice that v. 11ff switch from the first person (“I”) to the second person (“you”). In other words, the Psalmist moves from conversation with self, to conversation with God)
  • Repent of sin (search out your heart rather than side-step or ignore sin; v. 6; cf. Micah 7:8-9)
  • Trust in God’s sovereign covenant love (v. 8ff; Ps. 119:67, 71; Rom. 8:28; Heb. 12)
  • Spend your time thinking about how God (who is unseen) is greater than your troubles (which are quite visible, cf. v. 19-20).
  • Don’t just know that God is with you (v. 3-4), know that as a Christian, God is with you for good (v. 19-20).
  • Seek the help of God’s people (Notice that the whole Psalm is given to the choir director as though the people were going to help the Psalmist by weeping and rejoicing with him. The NT also tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep; cf. Rom. 12:15; 1 Cor. 12:25-26)
  • God’s people should never think of themselves in isolation. They are a “flock” (v. 20). Give yourself to serving others while you are still troubled (Is. 58:10-11)

For those who would like more help working through soul troubles, or for those who would like to be better equipped to help others, I would recommend Wayne Mack, Out of the Blues: Dealing With the Blues of Depression and Loneliness. It is definitely one of the better practical and biblical books that I have read on the subject.

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