What to Do When You’re Down in the Dumps

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A Biblical Recipe for Turning That Frown Upside Down

I’ve always been fascinated by King David. You see, once he was only a shepherd boy. His brothers looked down on him – the kid brother who spent more time with livestock than with humans. But it was David, the boy who probably smelled a bit like a barn, who was anointed by Samuel to be the next king of Israel.

And yet, despite his rather humble first career, he was the boy who had enough faith to slay a giant. You probably know the story of David and Goliath. The entire army of Israel was cowering in fear before Goliath. They all thought they were doomed, including King Saul. Then David shows up to visit his brothers, and despite being just a boy, he heads out to take on the giant with only a sling, stones, and faith in his God. We know how that story ends – David killed Goliath, and the Israelite army was filled with courage and sent the Philistine army running. It’s always amazing what just one person with faith can do!

I’m also intrigued by the fact that David is the only person ever referred to as a man after God’s own heart. David was so human. Just read the Psalms. He was emotional. He danced with joy before God. He cried in fear and despair to God. He rejoiced. He prayed. He grew angry with God. He asked tough questions. He made huge mistakes. He had great faith. And yet with all the emotions, the mistakes, and the ups and downs, he’s still the one with a heart like God.

I love that David never holds back in his prayers to God. Sometimes I find myself holding back my true feelings, never giving voice to my doubts or fears. That’s not how David was. His emotions and thoughts were right out there. And there are times through the Psalms where we see David get down in the dumps. He might have been king, but he wasn’t immune to bad days. Rough times happen to all of us. The key is to avoid staying down in the dumps – we can’t live there – and David gives us an excellent recipe for turning a frown into a smile in Psalm 42.

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. I will say unto God my rock, why hast thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, where is thy God? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” (Ps. 42:5-11)

1 – Sometimes We Have to Confront Ourselves

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me?”

You get the feeling here that David is disquieted, agitated, disturbed, discouraged, and feeling heavy. Yes, this is the same man who had enough faith to walk out and face off with a giant. He’d seen incredible victories. Slain a giant. Escaped from King Saul who tried to kill him multiple times. But despite all those victories in the past – the great faith he’d shown – David was still having a bad day.

While David acknowledges what he’s feeling, he confronts himself. His faith begins to reason with those fears. His inner self, the one that had seen God come through for him so many times, begins to counter sorrow with hope.

“Why art thou cast down…” Why are you in a bad mood? What has you down in the dumps? Why are you feeling so disquieted? There are times when, like David, we have to confront ourselves and the “mood” or the discouraged state that we are in.

Why? Because we cannot put up with nonsense from ourselves. Yes, bad days happen. We deal with discouragement. Problems crop up out of the blue. Things occur that seem overwhelming and impossible. But as Christians, we cannot stay in a bad mood constantly. We cannot live in the valley of discouragement. Because this is not what God wants for his people.

If you’re feeling down in the dumps today, realize that this is not God’s plan for you. Yes, these days happen. We’re human. We’re but dust. We’re like King David – as much as we work to have a heart like God, we still have those times when we are burdened down by life. Yet, we must confront ourselves when this happens.

2 – It’s Time to Do a Little Preaching to Yourself

“Hope thou in God…”

After confronting himself and his mood, David begins to do a little preaching to himself. He says, “Hope thou in God!” Sometimes we just need to do a little preaching to ourselves. When we have no idea where the finances are coming from…hope in God. When illness or disease strikes our life and it seems hopeless…hope in God. When life has broken us so badly that we feel we can never be made whole again…hope in God. When everything seems impossible…hope in God.

No matter how dark it is, hope carries us on to the light. It doesn’t matter if every evil has been let loose on us, there is still hope. For with God, our hope is never-ending. That hope never runs out. And when life is pressing in and it all feels like more than we can bear, it all comes down to the incredible, powerful hope that we have in our God. And David realized that. He realized that no matter how cast down, how disquieted, how discouraged he was, he had a HOPE!

And if that’s not enough for you to grab onto, look at a few more verses we find in the Psalms. Preach these verses to yourself when you are feeling down:

  • Ps. 46:1-3 – “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.”
  • Ps. 48:14 – “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.”
  • Ps. 50:15 – “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”
  • Ps. 37:23-25 – “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
  • Ps. 56:3-4 – “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.”
  • Ps. 91:1-2,4-5 – “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust…He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.”

There are times when we need to go back and search through the incredible promises God has given us. On those tough days when we’re finding it difficult to leave our discouragement behind, we have a place we can turn for encouragement and hope – the Bible. And it’s filled with promises that will give you a spiritual boost when you need it.

3 – Begin to Prophesy to Yourself in Faith

“For I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”

Now David is moving on from preaching to himself, and he’s prophesying to himself in faith. “For I shall YET praise him.” This is referring to praising God in the future. David is prophesying that soon he’s going to be praising God for his help. He doesn’t know when it’s going to happen, but he knows the answer is coming. Things might be dark right now, but help is on the way. I’m feeling discouraged, but God’s coming on the scene, and I’m going to be praising him. David’s already preparing his heart to praise God because he knows it’s not over.

You see, those tests in life…they lead to testimony. Those sighs are going to be turned into songs of praise. Our lamenting will be turned to joy. God turns our mourning into dancing (Ps. 30:11). David knew that his troubles were not going to last. He reminded himself that soon he was going to be back in the temple praising God once again.

David doesn’t just give us this “recipe” once in verse 5. He says it again in verse 11. Then in Psalm 43:5 he comes back to the same refrain. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God: For I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”

When the Bible repeats things – take notice. We’re going to have some rough times. There are going to be times when we are barely holding on, and we are sighing or even crying our prayers to God. But this is not where we should live as Christians. It’s not God’s plan for us to be disquieted, cast down, dismayed, or discouraged.

It’s ok to be down. We’re human. Bad days and bad moods happen. But we cannot forget who our hope is. Our hope is in God, and even when things seem impossible, God’s not done! And we can go ahead and prophesy over our future – we WILL praise God again. Because he’s already working in our situation. The answer is already on the way.

When we remember who our hope is in, we can ask ourselves, “Why art thou cast down? … Hope in God: For I shall yet praise him!”

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  1. Thank you for such an encouraging message,surely God is our present help in times of need, & He surely knows our needs & sends His help to wherever is needed at the right time, just like this article to me now.
    I have been holding on to Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not,for I am with you,be not dismayed,for I am your God.I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”(NKJV)

  2. Thank you so much. I woke up this morning reading the Psalms. Then I received your email. It was right on time. God knows what we are going through. He is our very present help in times of trouble/need. Praise the Lord.
    Gladys

  3. This beautiful message came in today when I was down in the dumps. I had already prayed to God for a solution that hasn’t arrived yet. But I know that help is on the ways. Amen

  4. This is the best sermon / teaching that is a great encouragement for the times we live in. Our God is greater than all of our fears, all of our discouragements, all the lies of the enemy’s lies that come against us and everything else. “Since God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31 Thank you for raising God’s standard, His true word, (the flag that is carried into battle) for us today.

  5. Thank you so much for these encouraging words. I have been through varies difficult things in my life. My husband passed away over a year ago unexpectedly. God has been with me through it all. But recently I find myself at times feeling lost, lonely without my husband, I feel discouraged at times and with much pain. I have my days but God brings me back up to where He wants me. Your article reconfirms and encourages me to continue to hold on to my hope in my Lord. God bless you.

  6. This is a good reminder on what to do when those moments of soul sadness come. Thank you

  7. Thank you for the word of encouragement. I feel a relief in my heart, despite what am passing through right now isn’t a good situation. The word has given me hope and light. Be blessed.

  8. Yes, we cannot at times avoid such situations but we need immediately put our faith at work, such instances strengthened our faith.
    It is a wonderful message that really touched the bones and marrow of each individual as led by the Holy Spirit. Thank you and remind blessed.

  9. Our true comfort comes from the Lord. He is the source of all good things. When we are down in the dumps we ought not to depend on ourselves but find encouragement in Him
    by meditating on Him and preach and prophesy to ourselves in accordance with His
    Word.

    John Muttiah

  10. Thank you for the encouraging word it was a blessing to me I’ve been going through some tough times in my life concerning differing situation but I truly believe it’s nothing that my God can’t fix I know that he is able to do all things but fail. My Hope and Faith is in the Lord and I’m going to stand on his word and promises . Help is on the Way Thank You Jesus

  11. Wow this is a great motivation……glory be to God for the life of the writer and i pray that God will increase you more in the word of God

    • That’s true, it came on time. Yes, when we are down and discouraged, we need to preach too our selves and remind ourselves whose our hope! We need to have the surf in our bosom so that we can counter attack back . The word of the Lord is life and health to those who find it. Thank you so much for this word and may God continue to bless you you with His grace . Amen

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