Two things follow: First, in as far as we are able, we must learn to control our feelings. There are various kinds of depression, to be sure, and some are the result of complex physical and psychological disorders. But there are times when we are spiritually depressed for no good reason. There are times when the best thing to do with our feelings is to challenge them: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Ps. 42:11).
Far too often we spend our days in misery and gloom, all because we are not taking what we know to be true about God and His control over our lives seriously. We must pray and ask God for strength to overcome our depressive, melancholy states. There is such a thing as a will that will not bend to God’s. We can become hardened, refusing to see the good hand of God. It is a cancer that will destroy us.
Second, no matter what our circumstances may be, we must seek for the interpretation that forces us to rejoice. We are to “rejoice in our sufferings” too (Rom. 5:3). I think of the story of Horatio Spafford, a businessman in Chicago in 1873 who lost his entire business in the Chicago fires. Sending his wife and four daughters across to England on the SS. Ville de Havre, he was to learn that the vessel struck another (the Lochearn) in the mid-Atlantic with the loss of 261 lives including his four daughters. Mrs. Spafford, who had been rescued, sent him a cable that read: “Survived alone.” Boarding the next available ship to meet her, Horatio was to be told by the captain of the vessel of the very spot where his daughters had drowned. It was then that he wrote these lines:
When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea-billows roll, Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.
That is the way God wants us to live. We have no right to expect that our lives are going to be free from trouble. But in every circumstance, if we are the Lord’s people, we are assured of God’s care and providence. He is working out every detail. There are no mistakes with Him (Rom. 8:32ff.). Every moment of our existence is cause enough for joy: the good and the bad together should integrate to form a hallelujah symphony to the praise of Almighty God.