‘JEHOVAH could never love me.’ So said one Christian woman who has struggled with depression much of her life. She convinced herself that Jehovah must be distant from her. Is Jehovah really far from those of his worshippers who may be depressed? The comforting answer is found in the inspired words of the psalmist David, as recorded at Psalm 34:18.
David knew the effect that extreme distress can have on a faithful worshipper of Jehovah. As a young man, David lived as a fugitive, relentlessly pursued by Saul, a jealous king bent on killing him. David sought refuge in what he might have thought to be the last place that Saul would look—the enemy city of Gath, in Philistine territory. But after being recognized, David narrowly escaped by feigning insanity. David credited God with delivering him, and based on this experience, he wrote Psalm 34.
Did David believe that God is far away from those who in the face of distress become dejected or feel unworthy of His notice? David writes: “Jehovah is near to those that are broken at heart; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.” (Verse 18) Let us see how those words convey comfort and hope.
“Jehovah is near.” One reference work says that this phrase is “an expressive way of saying that the Lord is attentive and watchful, always ready to help and to save his people.” It is reassuring to know that Jehovah watches over his people. He sees what they are going through in these “critical times,” and he knows their innermost feelings.—2 Timothy 3:1; Acts 17:27.
“Those that are broken at heart.” In some cultures, “a broken heart” has reference to unrequited love. But the psalmist’s words refer to “more general grief and sorrow,” says one scholar. Yes, even faithful worshippers of God may at times experience extreme hardships that break their heart.
“Those who are crushed in spirit.” Discouraged ones may become so low in their own eyes that they momentarily lose all hope. A handbook for Bible translators says that this expression may be rendered “those who have nothing good to look forward to.”
How does Jehovah respond to those who are “broken at heart” and “crushed in spirit”? Does he keep distant from them, feeling that they are unworthy of his love and attention? On the contrary! Like a loving parent who holds and comforts a child in distress, Jehovah is near to his worshippers who cry out to him for help. He is eager to comfort and soothe their broken heart and crushed spirit. He can give them the wisdom and strength needed to cope with any trials they may face.—2 Corinthians 4:7; James 1:5.
Why not find out how you can draw closer to Jehovah? This compassionate God promises: “I reside . . . with the one crushed and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly ones and to revive the heart of the ones being crushed.”—Isaiah 57:15.