From Despair to Joy

My Post (12)Just to be clear, I’m not a psychiatrist nor a medical doctor, and so, I have no claim to say that I know anything much about the world of depression. However, I do know that depression is very real and that there are different types of depression which vary from person to person. I know that Bi-polar disorder is a type of depression in which a person can experience mood swings – from highs of being extremely elated, and lows of complete despair. There is the clinical depression which is said to be caused by chemical imbalance, and this type of depression requires medical attention. There is also the melancholic depression which is said to be very severe and can be paralysing physically, emotionally and mentally when experienced. Depression commonly begins with self-protection when a person gets deeply hurt somehow.

The song There is a fountain filled with blood was penned by William Cowper, an English poet and Hymnodist. Apparently, William never fully recovered from the shock of his mother’s death, which occurred when he was only six years old. Not only had William lost his mother at a very early age, at the age of 25, he also lost his father, then followed by his brother’s death – the only other surviving child in a family of seven children.

As a young man, William fell in love with a woman and dated her for years. They planned to marry, but in the end, her father did not approve it. His second romance also failed, and William’s darkness deepened further with the added strain of an approaching examination that could have secured him a position as a clerkship of journals in the house of Lords. William Cowper was 33 years old when he met Jesus in an asylum he was admitted too, after he had tried to commit suicide for the third time during a period of insanity and depression.

Although William met Jesus in the asylum, he continued to struggle with loneliness and depression all the days of his life. But despite the pain, his hope still remained in the gospel. During one of his darkest hours, he wrote the song “There is a fountain filled with blood” (which is based on Zechariah 13:1). One of my favourite line from the song is in the third verse, in which William writes thoughtfully and encouragingly:

“Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power, till all the ransomed ones of God be saved to sin no more.”

The composer – George Frideric Handel was another man who lived with depression. One day he was sitting alone in his room, in a state of despair about his life and future. A few days earlier, his orchestra was thrown out in the streets, and the next day, he himself was jeered in a concert hall. During that period of hopelessness, a friend (Charles Jennens) visited Handel, and he asked Handel to write the music to an oratorio he had written on a manuscript. As a devout Anglican and believer in scriptural authority, Jennens intended to use the oratorio to challenge advocates of Deism who rejected the doctrine of divine intervention of the sovereignty of Christ.

At first, Handel reluctantly agreed to write the music to this oratorio, but once he began writing the music to it, it was said that he completed it all in about 24 consecutive days uninterrupted. I am convinced the reason he was able to do so was because he was overwhelmed by the love of praise for the name of Jesus which the oratorio was all about. His spirit of despair was replaced with a garment of praise into the spirit of joy. Today, the oratorio music is famously still known as “Handel’s Messiah,” and apparently, not a king or a queen in England has ever attended the reciting of Handel’s Messiah without standing up in honour of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I think depression is one of those subjects that is less talked about, especially by men. Even several great men of God were not spared from depression. Moses was so depressed, he wanted to die (Numbers 11), Elijah was so depressed, he wanted God to kill him (1 Kings 19),  Jeremiah was so down, he wondered why he was ever born (Jeremiah 20). Psalms 42 & 43 is said to be the biblical cure for emotional depression. The psalmist in Psalms chapter 42 and 43 was also going through one of those times, and thankfully he opened up his heart to show us the best way to deal with those times of discouragement and despair.

Most reputable scholar believe that both Psalm 42 & 43 were written by David, and yet, the Bible credits them to the sons of Korah. The two Psalms were most likely written at a time when David was far away from his palace, far away from the temple, and far away from home, when he was running away from his rebellious son Absalom. The sons of Korah were in charge of choral and orchestral music in the tabernacle during the reign of King David. It is most likely that the sons of Korah joined David when he was fleeing, and perhaps, it was during that troubled time they were inspired to write these two Psalms.

Whether you admit it or not, you talk to yourself. We all talk to ourselves. Talking to yourself does not make you crazy. It is better that you talk to yourself than let your circumstances talk to you. It is better for your mind to speak to your emotions instead of the other way around. It is better for you to preach to yourself than let the evil one do it. So, what do you say to yourself when you speak to yourself? The best example is from David. In Psalm 42, he said to himself:

“Why are you downcast oh my soul? Put your hope in God. For I will yet praise him, my saviour.”