On the third day of Christmas comfort, I'm reminded of several case studies. Each one of these cases involved counseling someone who was either severely depressed or suicidal. In all of the cases, I noticed a remarkable turn around whenever I went through various Psalms with them.
One of the reasons why the Psalms are so beneficial is that they show real human emotions. They show real human emotions in relationship to God. And they show these emotions in some striking ways. Sometimes it seems hard to think that the Psalmists would sing praises about how God never leaves or forsakes his people. Only to subsequently sing Psalms where the Psalmists feels as though God has forsaken him.
These seem to be helpful to people because they show that even when our situations are unique, there are still some similarities in how we feel in response to each situation. And our comfort increases, knowing that the Psalmists felt the same way. David himself felt similarly to the way we do. Not to mention the fact that the Psalms ultimately point us to Jesus Christ himself. It's this Gospel, Christ-centered fact that I think is the real reason why so many people benefit from the Psalms in the midst of their suffering.
So, here are three Psalms that I've seen be particularly encouraging for this third day of Christmas comfort. Nacmin has each verse hyperlinked to the ESV, so please feel free to click on each verse reference to read them.
The first Psalm is Psalm 88:0-18. This might seem ironic, given the fact that it's a rare Psalm in that it doesn't really offer a specific aspect of hope. Written by the sons of Korah, it offers up lament that is seemingly unanswered. However, as I've pointed out to counselees before, the opening line is the source of comfort. It's the very reason why the sons of Korah cry out. They address the God of their salvation. If God isn't the God of our salvation, then there's no reason to cry out to him. This is the very fact of hope in what seems to be a hopeless Psalm.
The second Psalm in Psalm 37:0-40. Of course, the entire Psalm is a huge benefit. But notice the way verses 5-8 specifically minister to you. One of the reasons this Psalm was so beneficial to individuals that I counseled who were suicidal is because anger was a huge factor in their suffering. Their own anger that is. Verse 5 shows that God will take care of us. Verse 6 shows that God will do what is right for us. And verse 7 shows that we should patiently wait for the Lord. Verse 8 tells us that we should avoid anger and wrath. And verse 8 tells us again not to fret because it leads to evil.
The third Psalm is Psalm 73:0-28. And the refreshing ministry that it provides starts in the opening verse. The Lord is good to Israel. But you'll notice that his goodness is focused on those who are pure in heart. In the midst of our suffering and difficulties, the most important thing to be pure in our hearts. Sin is what's ultimately wrong. Sin clouds our thoughts and judgments in our responses to our situations. The fact that we are down and discouraged when things are difficult is not because we don't have a God who carries us through; it's because we have that weighs us down (Hebrews 12:1-3).