It is reported that one out every four Americans struggle with some sort of depression. These are not individuals who are just a bit down on a rainy day, but people who fight a real battle with extended periods of despair or sadness. I have also read that depression affects not only adults but children as well. Nearly 2 million children are reported to struggle with some form of depression. Through the years there has been a debate over whether depression is spiritual or physical. Consider what the great preacher Charles Spurgeon wrote about it, “The troubled man experiences a good deal, not because he is a Christian, but because he is a man, a sickly man, a man inclined to melancholy.” Spurgeon believed that depression could be just as much physical as it was spiritual. Concerning his personal battle with depression he wrote, “I am the subject of depressions of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to.” Whether it’s depression or discouragement, we all experience times in our life when we need an extra amount of encouragement. That is why we’re going to dedicate this week to study about God’s help during our times of discouragement.
2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. NKJV
First, let’s consider what Paul means when he writes, ‘the Father of mercies.’ What is ‘mercy?’ The biblical word for mercy means ‘compassion, pity, or mercy.’ Concerning God being the Father of mercies, Albert Barnes wrote, “The Hebrews used the word “father” often to denote the author, or source of anything; and the idea in phraseology like this is, that mercy proceeds from God, that he is the source of it, and that it is his nature to impart mercy and compassion, as if he originated it; or was the source and fountain of it…” In other words, like water flows from a fountainhead, so mercy flows from the heart of God. Mercy is a part of His eternal nature of which He delights to share.
It is also important to note that ‘mercies’ is plural indicating that God has an abundance of mercy. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:4 that God is ‘rich in mercy.’ We read from the book of Lamentations, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV) God has a storehouse of mercy that can never be depleted.
So great is God’s mercy that the Hebrews had a special word for it. It is the Hebrew word ‘hesed.’ A website I often use and highly recommend to you is ‘www.gotquestions.org.’ Here is some of what they have written about the word ‘hesed.’
- “In the Bible, hesed often describes the mercy and compassion of God.”
- “Hesed surpasses ordinary kindness and friendship. It is the inclination of the heart to show ‘amazing grace’ to the one who is loved.”
- “Hesed, found some 250 times in the Old Testament, expresses an essential part of God’s character.”
Here is another verse of Scripture that describes the heart of God, “As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalms 103:13-14 NKJV)
Dear friend, God cares about us, especially when we are hurting. Join me again tomorrow as we continue our study. Until then, God bless you brethren.