Psalm 46 is a Gift for those who Struggle with Depression & Anxiety

Too often in Christian circles it’s taught that if you have faith, pray and obey, God will take away your problems.  If you are worried, give those worries to God and he will solve them.  If you’re going through a challenging time, God will fix it.  Things typically don’t work out this cleanly in real life, often leaving people wondering what they did wrong, or why God abandoned them.  Thankfully the Bible tells a different story. 

A first look glance at Psalm 46 highlights several verses that on their own, seem like the kind of “God will fix it” platitudes given to a person who is anxious, depressed, or going through a big time trial.  Take verse 1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”  If he’s an ever-present help in trouble, and he’s all-powerful and all-loving, then of course he will take our trouble away, right?  A narcissistic culture addicted to comfort certainly would tell you so.  But look at the very next verses:  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Can you imagine the earth giving way?  I picture massive chunks of a cliff careening down a gully, or the earth beneath our feet violently ripping apart from itself, forming a huge crack on what was once solid ground.  How terrifying!

Can you picture mountains falling into the heart of the sea?  The Rocky Mountains…gone.  Obliterated.  The trauma in this.

Can you picture the waters of the sea roaring and foaming…the spray…the current…the darkness…the power to destroy?

Now think about your darkest trials and the pain, anxiety and depression that come along with them.

My point is, the Bible is very clear here that the things troubling you aren’t going away.  But it offers something even more powerful: in the midst of everything you are worried about and that is getting you down, God is your refuge and strength.  He is with you, no matter what comes your way.  It’s like being in an impenetrable bomb shelter in the midst of a nuclear war.  In the midst of falling mountains and raging seas, there’s a peaceful river, a place where God dwells.  I can imagine floating down this tranquil river on an inner tube while everything else around is falling apart.  If I have God, I have all I need.

A famous verse in this Psalm is verse 10, Be still and know that I am God.  It’s important to note that this incredible comfort is given in the midst of a brutal war zone with a side order of natural disaster.  Yet we can be still and rest in the fortress that is our God.  This must be some God!

Platitudes fall flat.  I especially hate it when people tell me if I had more faith, my problems would go away.  I do need more faith, that’s for sure.  But it’s faith in a God who is my fortress in the midst of all my problems!  A fortress I can rest in, rejoice in, and cast all my cares upon, knowing He has already won the victory (He will be exalted among the nations and the earth you know…).  He’s not a God who promises to lavish me with comfort, He promises to BE MY COMFORT. 

Like the most famous Psalm in the Bible says,  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

If you’re in that valley, you’re in good company.

Psalm 46

1    God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2     Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3     though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4     There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5     God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6     Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7     The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8     Come and see what the LORD has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9     He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10     He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11     The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 

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3 responses to Psalm 46 is a Gift for those who Struggle with Depression & Anxiety


  1. Hey man, this post was so good and encouraging. What you wrote reminds me of 1 Cor. 10, that God is faithful in troubles and temptations, that his way of escape is going thru things not out of them, that he makes us able to endure. The comfort and strength is Christ within. Psalm 27 is another one I turn to on sleepless nights when darkness surrounds and the enemies I’m battling are within. Jesus is enough. . . more than enough.

    Psalm 27
    1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    Whom shall I fear?
    The Lord is the strength of my life;
    Of whom shall I be afraid?
    2 When the wicked came against me
    To eat up my flesh,
    My enemies and foes,
    They stumbled and fell.
    3 Though an army may encamp against me,
    My heart shall not fear;
    Though war may rise against me,
    In this I will be confident.

    4 One thing I have desired of the Lord,
    That will I seek:
    That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    All the days of my life,
    To behold the beauty of the Lord,
    And to inquire in His temple.
    5 For in the time of trouble
    He shall hide me in His pavilion;
    In the secret place of His tabernacle
    He shall hide me;
    He shall set me high upon a rock.

    6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
    Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
    I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
    7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!
    Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
    8 When You said, “Seek My face,”
    My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
    9 Do not hide Your face from me;
    Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
    You have been my help;
    Do not leave me nor forsake me,
    O God of my salvation.
    10 When my father and my mother forsake me,
    Then the Lord will take care of me.

    11 Teach me Your way, O Lord,
    And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
    12 Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
    For false witnesses have risen against me,
    And such as breathe out violence.
    13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
    That I would see the goodness of the Lord
    In the land of the living.
    14 Wait on the Lord;
    Be of good courage,
    And He shall strengthen your heart;
    Wait, I say, on the Lord!


  2. Verse 13 of Psalm 27 is especially meaningful to me. Today, I am able to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, but when I first came across that verse, I was going through a horrible depression that lasted for 3 years. I could not see any goodness anywhere, and I thought about suicide every day. I read verse 13 with hope, but also with anger because it seemed as though God had left me and betrayed me. That was 20 years ago and I had forgotten about that verse 13 until recently. Such sweet peace washes over me now when I realize that God is showing me His goodness in the land of the living.


  3. Hi Noah,
    It is verses like Psalm 27:5,

    “For in the time of trouble
    He shall hide me in His pavilion;
    In the secret place of His tabernacle
    He shall hide me;
    He shall set me high upon a rock.”

    that I read and then expected God to do for me. “Why aren’t You hiding me?! What have I done wrong that You aren’t protecting me?! Am I even saved since God is not doing this for me?!” I was taught that if I was saved, God would rescue me from all trouble. At the time I was experiencing such mental and emotional trauma that I was terrified that I was going to hell. Now that my life has turned around, it’s easy to see that sometimes God does hide us, but sometimes He is with us as we go through it.

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