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Depression is a common malady

My soul, why are you so downcast? Why are you groaning inside me? Hope in God (Psalms 42:11 [12]).

Depression is a common malady in modern life, afflicting unbelievers and believers alike. The depressed person often endures an endless stream of words within his mind, words of helplessness and failure that only deepen his depression. Cognitive therapy has proven to be among the most effective responses to this condition. This treatment does not seek to analyze or reason with the negative words of depression, but simply to replace them with words of hope and encouragement.

The psalmist instinctively does something similar. In his exile, he longs to return to the holy Temple and the true worship of God. He feels downcast and forsaken. To cheer himself up, he speaks to his nefesh (soul), the breath of life within himself, challenging its depression. As a man of faith, he takes charge over his own mental state and resolves to praise God despite circumstances. He speaks to his nefesh, not of the loneliness that he feels, but of the praise that he knows God deserves. As a result, his hope is renewed and he can speak of "God, my exceeding joy" (Psalms 43:4). We also can speak to our nafshim (souls) when we feel downcast, choosing words of Scripture over our own words of discouragement and fear. not yield to depression if it arises, but I will speak words of Scripture to my soul.

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