Recently, I came across a magazine article that examined the growing epidemic of suicide among young men. It reported that three-quarters of the suicides in Britain were committed by men. The article referenced a poll where one-third of people between the ages of 35 and 44 said that, at some point in the past year, they had felt like life was not worth living.
Many men suffer and don’t bring their pain out into the light of day. The pain can be compounded for Christian men who read commands in the Bible like “Rejoice in the Lord always!” (Philippians 4:4) while their lives are characterized by sorrow. The difficulties can become unbearable when we look back and remember times of joy but don’t know how to get there again.
In our reading today, Job descends into greater despair as he suffers from his losses and defends his righteousness against the attacks of his friends. He points to others who found themselves in similar situations and asks, “Have I not wept for those who have fallen on hard times? Has my soul not grieved for the needy?” He’d sympathized and wept with those who struggled, but now when he’d “hoped for good” in his own life, “evil came” to him instead (Job 30:25–26).
Psalm 42 reveals a writer in mourning. The psalmist looks back on times when he’d rejoiced with others, leading them in procession to the house of God for worship (v.4). Yet when he wrote this particular psalm, he was “dejected,” “in turmoil,” and “depressed.”
The psalmist longs to appear before God, thirsting after Him like a deer panting after flowing streams. He addresses his own soul, reminding himself to hope in God once again. As for Job, he appeals to God for vindication, knowing that he stands no chance of absolving himself before the accusations of his so-called friends.
Then, there is Jesus. On the cross, echoing the words of Psalm 22, he cries, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46). From the perspective of every person standing there that day, He has been abandoned by God. Yet, three days later He will rise again. The world sees an abandoned man, but the Father vindicates His Son through His resurrection.
In the same way, our sorrow and our enemies do not speak the last word about us. Jesus Christ bore our sins in His own body on the tree, then rose from the dead so that we might be brought into right relationship with God. Christian, your pain does not define you. Your depression, your struggles, and the accusations of those who hate you have no bearing on what is truest about you. You are defined by your Savior, who loved you and gave Himself up for you.
In your trials, follow the example of the psalmist and speak to your own soul, remind yourself of what’s true. Say to yourself, “Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God.”
Written by Scott Slayton