I learned recently of a speaker who told her audience that Christians ought always to be optimistic. She explained that Elijah’s negativity and pessimism after his titanic battle with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18-19) was unacceptable to her. Though tolerated compassionately by God who prescribed food and rest for his battle-tested prophet, such doom and gloom, in her opinion, was unbefitting of a godly, thus optimistic, person.
After reading Psalm 143, it is quite apparent that David did not get this speakerette’s memo either. “For the enemy has persecuted my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me dwell in darkness, like those who have long been dead. Therefore, my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is distressed” (vv. 3-4).
Life happens in real time, not hindsight; its trials and spiritual battles are diverse and rarely give you any advanced warning (James 1:2). Many of Satan’s attacks are intentionally covert and unpleasant. Satan’s wiles (methodia is the Greek word) are intended to crush, overwhelm, and distress. He is fighting to defeat and destroy you.
So, when you, like David, can truthfully say, “My spirit is overwhelmed within me” (cf. Psalm 142:3), remember that God wants you to turn to Him and listen to His words. He will give you rest and legitimate help, not a foolish lecture on optimism.