Let’s just start off by saying this. This psalm (and the Bible in general) says that being downcast is not something that just happens to spiritual midgets; it also happens to spiritual giants. It happens to everybody. I mean not just a little blue but dissolved, decimated, completely despondent, profoundly so.

For example, in 1 Kings 19, it talks about how Elijah, after a great triumph, was plunged into an emotional, psychological despair or depression. He went out into the desert, sat under a broom tree, and prayed that he might die. “Take my life,” he said to God. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah says to God, “Take my life.” In Numbers, chapter 11, Moses says to God, “Take my life. Kill me.” In Jonah, chapter 4, Jonah says, “Take my life. Just kill me right now.”

Notice something very important. All three of these men knew they did not have the right to take their own lives, that no one has the right to take their own life. They weren’t going to take their own lives, but what they were saying to God was, “I have nothing left. I don’t even want to be here. Just kill me.” That is downcast. The English word downcast actually doesn’t get across the strength of this word. It means, “I have nothing left. I don’t even want to be here. I’m completely out. I’m spent. I’m crumpled. I’m dissolved. I’m blown away.”

Who is Elijah? Who is Moses? These aren’t spiritually immature people. This is the crème de la crème. These are our spiritual heroes, and they get despondent. So can you. It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter how well you’re living or not. Everybody gets into this situation. It will be, at some point, true of everybody. Everyone can become despondent. — Timothy J. Keller, “Prayer of Thirst,” in The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive, 2014–2015 (New York: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2015), Ps 42–43.

I have just completed a series of seven lessons on Engaging Culture. They are available on Amazon, as well as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription service. Lessons include:

Engaging Culture, Lesson #1
Race / Ephesians 2.11 – 22

Engaging Culture, Lesson #2
Life / Exodus 1.15 – 2.9

Engaging Culture, Lesson #3
Depression / Psalm 42, 43

Engaging Culture, Lesson #4
Do Not Get Drunk / Ephesians 5.15 – 25

Engaging Culture, Lesson #5
Marriage / Genesis 2.18 – 25

Engaging Culture, Lesson #6
Materialism / 1 John 2.15 – 17; 3.16 – 16

Engaging Culture, Lesson #7
Cults / 1 John 2.18 – 29