by Ed Corley

Maintaining the Hold in the Personal Struggle
Because of the widespread trouble so many believers are having with depression, we publish this article.

For many, overcoming depression begins with deliverance, but “maintaining the hold” against it comes by following principles set forth in the Scriptures.

An amazing prescription for this very thing occurs in Psalm 77.

We began following it about three years ago and the results are rewarding. We had to learn through some trials to walk in the truth of it, but they have actually helped press us into the Word. The trials along with the Word are now pressing us into the Kingdom.

Psalm 77 is divided into two parts. The first reveals the quest of a man — a religious man, if you please — whose thoughts, prayers and relationship with God all centered in himself. This intense occupation with self brought depression, — depression of the most severe sort in which all his trust in the Lord turned into questions of doubt and fear and misunderstanding.

We are finding many struggling believers in the same condition.

The second part of the Psalm reveals how, through a most simple mechanism of the mind, the ability to remember, the man’s captivity was turned from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. And what a difference! His depression left entirely.

Instead of “Has God forgotten to be gracious?” — the question of the depressed soul — he began to exclaim, “Who is so great a God as our God!” — the outburst of a soul who has been set free from himself so he can make God the center of his life.

We look now at the Psalm in a structured form to point out the continuing recurrence of the First Person Pronouns — I, me, and my. This is a dead giveaway as to why the man is depressed.

1. I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and He gave ear unto me.

2. In the day of my trouble, I sought the Lord; my sore ran in the night and ceased not; my soul refused to be comforted.

3. I remembered God and was troubled; I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed.

4. Thou holdest mine eyes waking; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

5. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.

6. I call to remembrance my song in the night; I commune with mine own heart; and my spirit made diligent search.

Twenty times he spoke from himself, about himself and for himself. And it all led to some questions which betray his depressed soul. They each belie a disregard for God and the qualities of grace which are resident in Him.

The man may have known God, but at the time of these questions he was not knowing Him. He had maintained his attendance at worship, his remembrance of God, his praying. Yet he grew depressed.

The reason for the depression was that his life centered in himself. Even his religion was self-centered, which made him unable to learn the very basics of a relationship with God.

His questions were:

7. Will the Lord cast off forever? (He had doubts about God’s care for His own.) Will He be favorable no more? (He had doubts about His grace.)

8. Is His mercy clean gone forever? (He had doubts about His mercy.) Doth His promise fail for evermore? (He had doubts about the truthfulness of His Word.)

9. Hath God forgotten to be gracious? (He doubted God’s faithfulness.) Hath He in His anger shut up His tender mercies? (He had doubts about His love.)

In this estate he settled, without hope of release. Note his conclusion:

10a. And I said, “This is my infirmity.” He meant, “This is the weakened state in life in which I must reside.” His attitude turned to a solid state of continual discouragement. At least he no longer would have mood changes. He settled into one mood, a low one.

What he was saying meant, “Everyone will always know where to find me now. I will live in the dismal forebodings of life. The goals I once had have faded and nothing is worth the striving.”

But, He had one thing left — the ability to remember. That was a God-given, powerful and wonderful ability. He remembered, and in remembering, his life’s outlook was changed.

It was a small thing he did, yet the results were large.

The ability to remember remains long in a mind that has been overrun with depression. In fact, it is one of the things that keeps depressions going — the memory of past events, times and relationships that were hurtful and disappointing.

Deliverance for the man in the Psalm came when he decided to flip the memory from the bad to the good.

It is so small a thing to do that it may seem of no account, but it works. It is like the switching of a train from one track to another. The switch is small, the locomotive large, but the switch turns and the locomotive’s destination is changed.

We’ll come back and talk more of the process, but look now at the remainder of the Psalm. Notice that the dramatic change in mood comes in the middle of verse 10. It is a switch we would hardly notice — except that the “locomotive” was sent steaming down an entirely different track.

10b. . . . But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.

11. I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember Thy wonders of old.

12. I will meditate also of all Thy work. and I will talk of Thy doings.

Out of this he discovered the Way of the Lord. (Notice what he says in verses 13 and 19.) His whole outlook of life — and about God — is changed. There is no more centering everything in on himself. God fills his life.

We will discuss shortly the steps by which his change took place, but first let us continue with the Psalm. Notice there is no more I, me or my. It is replaced with Thou and Thy.

13. Thy Way, O God, is in the Sanctuary: Who is so great a God as our God?

14. Thou art the God that doest wonders: Thou hast declared Thy strength among the people.

15. Thou hast with Thine arm redeemed Thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph.

16. Thy Way is in the sea, and Thy path is in the great waters, and Thy footsteps are not known.

17. Thou didst lead Thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

To know His Way in the Sanctuary and His Way in the sea is to know His grace — His divine, enabling, saving and continuing grace. No person who knows this grace can know depression also.

Now back to remembering. The Psalmist said, “I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.” This means he began to think about the times God was real to him. He had a depository in his mind, stored in the memory bank, of times when God showed power and grace on his behalf. These were times when he was, as it were, protected, released, relieved or delivered by the right hand of God’s power. Or he had some time, stored in his memory, when he saw some wonderful provision from the right hand of God’s power.

Next, he began to remember God’s wonders of old. These are recorded for us in the Scriptures. They are the times God moved wondrously, and powerfully, and graciously in behalf of some person or for His people.

Then he began to meditate on the work of God. This means he talked to himself about what God had done. Meditation is mumbling. It is mumbling of a good sort, under one’s breath, not out loud for anyone’s ears. It is quiet reflection on what God has done.

Meditation and memory go together. The memory bank supplies the material for the meditation.

Next came the release. He began to talk about what God was doing. It once was hard for the depressed soul to do this. But it was no longer difficult. He could not contain it within himself. God had become too near and too wonderful for him to keep it to himself alone. So he talked; he spoke words of life.

The amazing thing is that this boldness, this newfound refreshment, did not come off as brashness or fanaticism. It came off as life, and what he saw and said then still ministers life to us now.

When we saw these four simple steps, we were challenged to start taking them. Then we were challenged to make them our continuing practice.

It has taken a little time, but not nearly as much time as it would take being depressed.

When we decided to start remembering the years of the right hand of the Most High, there came quickly to my mind a certain time when I saw God move quietly, but wonderfully, in our behalf as a family.

There are so many such memories from which I might draw, but there was a particular reason, I’m sure, why this one was quickened first to my memory. It was then that God established a principle with me, a principle that I have had to remember over and over.

What came to my memory was the time God said to me, “You don’t have to take the trip; I will.”

It was the first of January. We had traveled from New York, where I was teaching in a Bible school, about fifteen hundred miles south to spend the Christmas holidays with our relatives. The trip had been perilous. Rain had turned to ice, which covered the roads. We were forced to stop over in a motel in an area where we were strangers. When we had reached our destination, all our resources were depleted. We arrived safely, but we were then out of money. Of course, as teachers in a Bible school, we didn’t have much to begin with.

Through the days we were with our relatives, I thought surely some way would open to gain enough money to make the trip back to our home in New York. The next to the last day arrived and we had enough money to buy gas for me to travel one hundred thirty miles to a fellowship of believers to whom I had been invited to minister. There was one dollar left; I took it with me.

“But surely,” I thought, “these dear people will give a generous offering for my ministry. That’s the way God will provide.”

As I was traveling to the meeting, the Lord spoke to me, “They will give you no offering.”

I heard accurately.

I spoke that night from the Song of Solomon about the Beloved coming into His garden. What a spirit of revelation attended that meeting as we considered together the Lord coming into our lives to dwell there!

At the close of the message, all the people worshiped beautifully and wonderfully. They lifted their hands, sang sweetly unto the Lord and rejoiced in His dwelling within them.

As they worshiped, I began to pout. How quickly I turned from being anointed in ministry to having a very bad attitude.

I told the Lord, “Well might they worship! They all have homes nearby. They have jobs to which they will go in the morning and for which they will receive an abundant salary. I have one dollar and an empty gas tank. Tonight I must travel one hundred thirty miles to get to my family and in the morning start the fifteen hundred mile trip back north in the worst time of the year.”

On and on my thoughts rushed. Depression started to set in. I had gone to the house of the Lord, and poured forth my soul to the people, and was left myself with the question, “Has God forgotten to be gracious?”

After a few moments — through my fretting, and in His graciousness — the Lord broke through the wall I was building up against Him and He spoke to me. He said, “You don’t have to take the trip; I will.”

“Oh, how wonderful!” I thought. “What a relief! The trip is His, not mine.”

I could be at ease.

After the meeting, everyone extended their love and appreciation. They were all so glad I was able to be with them, and so on. They blessed me for the trip I was to start out upon. And it was just as the Lord said it would be about the offering.

When I finally made it to my car with the dollar in my pocket, a brother who was in the meeting asked if I would be coming back that way the next day. If so, he wanted to go with me for the ride.

I said that I was, and should be happy to have him ride with me.

We drove to a nearby discount service station where I asked for a dollar’s worth of gas. My friend asked why I was buying such a small amount. I muttered something that sounded like, “It’s all I need.”

He said he didn’t have any money, but he did have a credit card, and would like to fill the tank for me.

So we started out with a full tank and one dollar.

When we arrived where my family was visiting with their grandmother, I found that we were to “stop by Sister Lou’s for sweet potatoes to take with us.” Sister Lou was a widow with little of life’s goods.

As I put the potatoes in the car, she put something in my shirt pocket. Miles later, I looked at it; it was a twenty dollar bill.

“Praise the Lord,” I said. This would take us to Tennessee where I had been invited to preach on Sunday. Surely there the offering would be sufficient for the rest of the trip.

I was finding it difficult to remember it was the Lord’s trip, not mine. The responsibility was His.

We did receive an offering in Tennessee — two dollars and sixty-five cents plus some canned goods!

We traveled on. All through Ohio the roads were covered with ice, yet the car never slipped. The children were peaceful. We were comfortable in the car and we arrived home with money left.

I don’t know how we did it. It was His trip, not mine.

As we reflected on Psalm 77, it was this I was caused to remember — a time in my own life “of the right hand of the Most High.” It was not as great as some deliverances others have seen, nor as great as some other times in our own experience, but it was a time in which the Lord spoke to us and taught us a principle by which we might live.

If we would remember this principle, many a depressing time would be turned into a time of rejoicing. It is this the Lord was showing us: when we commit our way to Him, and there is no natural provision for the way, He takes the responsibility to supply that need.

This touches a weak point that leads to depression for many of us. It is when we feel that God has not supplied our need that we begin to draw back. And in drawing back from Him, we become depressed.

This does not apply only to financial needs, but to all the other needs a person may have — emotional, physical, material and spiritual. The need to have a purpose, the need to be loved, the need for security may all be met in Christ.

Years ago I learned Psalm 37:5. but it has taken much longer for it to enter my spirit. The same is true with Philippians 4:19.

How easy to memorize these verses! But their storage in the memory is only the beginning. They enter our mind for the purpose of being worked into our spirit. It is there they become a fountain of life unto us, which the pressures of life only cause to flow more abundantly.

If you think there is nothing in your life that has come from the right hand of God’s power, then skip that point. Go to the second thought we pointed out in Psalm 77 and begin to consider a wonder of old from the Scriptures. Soon in your own life will come a wonder — a wonder of His grace.

Let me tell you about how we began to remember a “wonder of old.” The first that came to my mind was the account of the boy David standing before Goliath. Oh, the principles of truth the Lord began to show us as we waited before Him with that passage from I Chronicles 17! They are so many that I think they should come forth in a separate article.

In brief, however, we saw that the men of Israel were caught in a depressing situation. Not one of them had sufficient strength or fortitude to face this giant who defied the army of Israel (I Chronicles 17:23).

Yet a small lad could come before him and slay him because he considered that Goliath defied the armies of the living God (I Chronicles 17:26).

What a difference in attitude! This giant was God’s enemy, not Israel’s. David knew this. Therefore he knew that God would overthrow him. The battle was the Lord’s (I Chronicles 17:47).

Only after a long time did I see the parallel between my trip and David’s battle. They both belonged to the Lord. Remembering the two events, and meditating on them both, as did the Psalmist, did two things for me.

First, my mind began to be taken up with the ways of the Lord — His way with me on the trip and His way with David before Goliath.

Second, the principle of truth concerning His ways began to work its way into my spirit, so that what formerly depressed my soul became instead a signal to watch the Lord work.

Another wonder of old came to my mind, found in Exodus 17. (Both wonders being in chapters 17 was coincidental, as far as I know, but that did make for easy memory.)

The wonder was what took place that day when Moses sat on the hill with his arms raised while Joshua discomfited the Amalekites down below. What a case for reflection! We thought long on it. When Moses lifted his hand, Israel prevailed; when he let down his hands, Amalek prevailed. So Aaron and Hur came to the aid of Moses to hold his hands high and Amalek was defeated.

Those men didn’t go to Joshua’s aid; they went to Moses’. The real battle was being waged where he was, up there on the hill.

Let me challenge you to read the passage and reflect on it. Think about it. Meditate on it. It is a word that will work wonders in your spirit.

But first, let me draw some things to your attention in the brief passage, Exodus 17:8-16. Moses was commanded to write it that the memory of it might be ever kept with Joshua. He was to hear it and re-hear it, apparently all the days of his life. He was never to forget what took place on that day. It was to be kept vivid in his memory that battles are not won by many men with swords, but by a few men who hold their hands unto the Lord.

Another point, an important point, to be seen in the passage is not clear in some translations, but is clearer from the Hebrew in which it was first written. It is the verse which closes the passage, and whose meaning is virtually lost in the King James Version. It gives the reason Moses’ hands were lifted. It is “because a hand (the hand of Amalek) was lifted against the Throne of the Lord.”

Moses countered the defiance of Amalek by lifting his hand unto the Throne. How simple an act; how powerful its effect! The Throne of the Lord was recognized and in its recognition, its power released.

With me, the trip was the Lord’s. With David, the battle was the Lord’s. With Moses, the battle was the Lord’s.

How dare I put my little conflicts into the same category with David’s and Moses’? It is because we each have the same Lord. Whether the conflict be great or small, His power and provisions avail.

In remembering, and in turning from I and my to Thou and Thy, the Psalmist considers God’s Way in His Sanctuary. Whether it is before a giant, before an Army, or on an icy road, He comes and the place is sanctified. And there in the midst of impossibility we learn that He is with us. More than that, He is in us. We are His Sanctuary.

The Psalmist also speaks about His Way in the sea. A Way in the sea? There are no paths there. He leads us all in ways not known before. But, O, He leads us, and in these unknown paths we encounter Him.

Beloved, the prescription for maintaining the hold in the struggle against depression is a simple one: REMEMBER.

(Reprinted from: Maschil, Berean Gospel Fellowship, P.O. Box 667, Lincolnton, GA 30817).

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