Summary: An expostion of David’s time of discourgement in the cave of Adullam from Psalm 142.
After Christmas Mourning…Psalm 142
Pastor Jeff Williams
After Christmas Mounring….
Yesterday started earlier than I would have liked. Our two wide-eyed dreamers got up before sunrise to see what was under the tree. Maxine and I stumbled out of bed and tried to corral Josh and Austin before they tore into their stash. It was Christmas Day. We read the Christmas story from Luke. The boys opened their presents and spent the rest of the morning playing computer games from Grandpa Jack. I chased Maxine around with mistletoe and took video of the day’s events. Pa Paw Patrick even made a surprise visit from Atlanta. It was a good day.
But something was missing. Something did not feel quite right. Though there was tinsel, there were also tears. And even though our living room floor was covered in presents, we could not escape the pain. When we gathered to take a picture, someone was missing. Patrick was here, but where was Maxine’s mother? There was a hole in the picture, just as real as the hole in our hearts. This was Maxine’s first Christmas since her mother died in early August. It’s been four years since my mother died. It just did not feel like Christmas without them. Life does go on, but it does not go on the same.
This entire holiday season has been tinged with sadness for our family, and Maxine in particular. Baking, shopping, and even writing the annual Christmas letter became burdensome for her. While others sang “Joy to the world,” we sang “The Holiday Blues.” A couple of weeks ago, while preparing for this sermon, it occurred to me that many other families were walking through the same valley, or one very similar. Maybe it’s been the loss of job, a health concern, financial troubles or a relationship that ruptured. Whatever it is, it hurts. It is part of being a human during the holidays.
The Holiday Blues
Psychologists tell us that the holidays can be depression-producing times for some people. Dr. Gary Collins writes, “Christmas…may not be a time of joy and happiness for people who are separated from loved ones, without friends or the money to buy presents, worry about relatives who drink too much at the holiday celebrations, pressured by the demands of the season, or reminded of deaths or other traumatic events that took place in a previous December.” (Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide, Dr. Gary Collins, p. 116) Suicide rates spike during the holidays. At the psychiatric hospital I worked in during seminary, the assessment office would be overwhelmed during the month of December with people in distress. Christmas is a time of great sadness for many people
But the Church is Different, right?
The holidays are a time of joy and hope. Surely no “good” Christian could be depressed during such a festive time, right? So, week after week, we walk into the church doors and put on our church face. We feel guilty and lie and say we are ok when we are falling apart. We play the part, quote the right verses, and swallow our tears. Enough! Enough, I say! If you can not be real here, where can you be? If you can not struggle here, where can you struggle? The church is a group of fellow humans walking a long, sometimes disheartening, journey toward home together. Listen to Paul’s heart as he writes to the church in Corinth:
“If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it.” (I Corinthians 12:26, NCV)
And to the church in Galatia he wrote this command:
“Share each others troubles and problems and in this way obey the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, NLT)
We are created to be in community. That’s why it is so important to be in a small group. We serve together, worship together, cry together, and learn together. Let’s do that right now, shall we?
Turn with me in your copy of God’s word to Psalm 142.
The Cave of Discouragement
I love David, as I suspect many of you do too. He was a man of great faith and vision, but also a man of great emotion. He was a man “after God’s own heart” but messed up royally. He was prone to discouragement and even depression. When he wrote this psalm he was on the run from King Saul. He was an outlaw and was being hunted like a wild animal. There are at least eight Psalms written by David while he was trying to escape Saul and his army. Because David wrote these Psalms down in a journal, we can actually pinpoint where and when they were written. Psalm 142 was written in the Cave of Adullam. This cave was a cavernous hole with an opening forty feet wide and twenty feet high. In I Samuel 22:1-2, we learn more about David’s time in the cave: