A Guide for Getting Through Your Melancholy Mood
OES it ever feel like it just isn’t working? You pray. You read your Bible. You try. But nothing seems to happen. Nothing seems to change. Does it ever feel like your soul just refuses to be comforted?
The Psalms give us a window into the very heart of the ancient poets. As John Calvin said, the Psalms show us the total anatomy of the human soul. Consider the words of Psalm 77:
I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan;
when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah
You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
(Psalm 77:1-4, ESV)
The Psalmist is searching for comfort, but his soul refuses all that he seems to find. Still, he doesn’t let his lack of success keep him from seeking. That can be hard to do, can’t it? He then turns his attention to remembering God’s works:
I consider the days of old,
the years long ago.
I said, “Let me remember my song in the night;
let me meditate in my heart.”
Then my spirit made a diligent search:
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah
Sometimes remembering can be painful too. In contemplating the past, all the author sees is what has been lost. Can you relate? He wonders if God will always be angry. In what seems to be a sheer act of the will, he continues to meditate on the works of God and there seems to be some progress:
Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
(Psalm 77:10-15, ESV)
Even in pain, there is encouragement in praise. It takes our eyes off of ourselves and helps us again, even if through a vale of tears, fix our eyes on our Savior.
But there’s something else in this Psalm we shouldn’t miss. It’s that God’s help often comes through others’ hands. As he outlines the provision and salvation of God, the Psalmist concludes, “You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (77:20).
We can find help and hope in remembering all that God has done in the past. It can frame our thinking about the present and the future. But don’t miss the fact that often God leads and cares for us “by the hand” of others.
If you’re in a melancholy mood, stop and think about God’s work in your life. Thank him. Try to see your current situation in light of how God has taken care of you in the past. And consider asking for help from someone else who can lend an ear, a shoulder, a heart to care.
Stop and thank God for the Moses and Aaron in your life. Send them a note or an email and thank them personally. And finally, pray that God can use your hands to lead and bless others today. I’ve nothing picks me up out of a personal pity party more than seeking to bless others.