Sometimes we can feel like the weight of the world is laid upon us.
At those times, through the misty haze of tears, we can see no hope at all.
But God promises us that He will turn our tears into laughter and our mourning into a song of joy ! (Psalm 30:11-12)
Have you ever felt depressed, gloomy, dark or sad with or without a direct cause ?
I have...and so have many other brothers and sisters in Christ !
What happened to me
One morning, early December 2015, I woke up and fell into a deep pit of darkness and gloom. It was my own doing. I had neglected my family, my faith and all the physical signs my body gave me of imminent collapse.
My career, that's what concerned me most, that and the fleeting momentary pleasures of this world. I slowly drifted away from who I was in Christ. Inch by inch, until God intervened and threw me in a dark pit, where I would stay, until His appointed time.
I suffered a nervous breakdown and spent the next six months in what the doctors called typical Burn Out. The first three weeks I could barely move. All my energy had gone. I sat in a corner, looking dead ahead at nothing, for days on end.
My wife took me on walks, to clear the mind. I read the Bible, took mild anti-depressants, and went to therapy.
Slowly, inch by inch, I got pulled out of the dark hole I had fallen in to.
Causes of depression
There are many reasons why a person can feel depressed. Sometimes there is a direct cause either mentally or physically. Sometimes it is the result of a long period of neglecting body, soul or faith. Sometimes the underlying reason is more illusive and almost feels like an attack from outside yourself.
Regardless of the cause, mentally, physically or in the form of an attack... God is in control, He planned all things before time, even this... and He makes all things work, for good, for those who love Him, whom He has called, according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
In retrospect, the hardest thing during my darkest moments was standing alone, due to the lack of understanding, from people around me. Not only those people who are of the world, but from brothers and sisters in Christ.
People seemed incapable of understanding or even accepting that the mental pain and anguish was as real as a serious injury to the body. They called it made up, imagination or affectation, or they would just say all these things with one single condemning look.
Others would be sincere in trying to help, but couldn't, because they had no cure, no words to change the darkness into light, no grip themselves of the situation. They did not have a common frame of reference... without evil intent, they stood a great distance away.
In those moments, when no one could or would enter the darkness with me. When accusations would be said without a word, or when I lay in bed at night, looking at the ceiling, consumed with sorrow, it was Jesus who stood by me, He never left me alone. (2 Timothy 4:16-18)
Righteous and depressed
There are those, who say that depression, or indeed any form of ailment or set back, is a direct result from a lack of faith, that say we should name it and claim it. I have found these ideas to be false teachings and I can proof it from Scripture.
Elijah, the lonely prophet
Elijah was a prophet, who called down the fire of God from heaven, to destroy the false prophets of Baal. Elijah stood against the evil and blood thirsty queen Jezebel, who killed the prophets of the Lord. Elijah was a man with whom God spoke directly and who, in older age, did not die, but was taken up into heaven, by angels on fiery chariots. Of such a man we can say with confidence: “he walked with God and was no more, for God took him”.
And yet, after one of his most famous and greatest achievements this Elijah fled the scene and said: “I have had enough Lord. Take my life, I am not better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19:4)
Elijah was depressed, he was sick of life itself. He did not see Gods greater plan, working beneath the surface. He felt he was the only one left in the land, who walked with God. He felt completely alone, But God showed him that He had left to Himself seven thousand men, who had not worshiped the idol Baal (1 Kings 19:18 ; Romans 11:4)
David, the torment of rejection and sin
David, a man of whom God testified that he was a man after His own heart, battled on many occasions with doubt, fear, guilt, pain and depression.
David was the youngest of eight brothers. He was not counted worthy by his family to be present when the great prophet Samuel came to find the boy who would be king. He was left tending the sheep.
Later, after Samuel had singled him out to be the next king of Israel, David went to his brothers, who were in king Saul's army, when they stood against Goliath and the Philistine army. His brothers mocked him and did not count him worthy of being on that battle field with them.
The young David was not the head of the family but rather the tail, but as God so often does, He chose the unbecoming of this world to establish greatness.
After David became king, he committed a great sin in the matter of Uriah the Hittite and his wife Batsheba. The guilt of his sin would haunt him the rest of his life and would cause David to write in the psalms: “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.” (Psalm 38:4)
Many Psalms are of David’s hand and describe scenes of darkness in the human soul. darkness created by guilt, by despair, by persecution... But in every Psalm there is a balance. David and the other Psalmists show the depression of man and the staying hand of God's love. The Psalms are a life giving spring, for those in the depths of despair !
Job, losing everything
Job was a righteous man, so much so that God described him as His servant Job, who is perfect and an upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil. (Job 1:8)
The devil however wanted to sift Job like wheat and God allowed it.
Job lost everything, from goods to family, to friends, even his health was not spared. So great was his suffering and tragedy that even his own wife said, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9)
Though Job maintained his faithfulness to God throughout his life, he still struggled greatly because of the losses and his dying body. Job said:
“Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?” (Job 3:11)
“I have no peace, no quietness, I have no rest, but only turmoil.” (Job 3:26)
“I loathe my very life, therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 10:1)
“Terrors overwhelm me…my life ebbs away, days of suffering grip me. Night pierces my bones, my gnawing pains never rest.” (Job 30:15-17)
In the despair of losing everything, Job looked to God, not for answers or in demand of an explanation, but in surrendering faith, saying:
"I left my mother’s womb naked, and I will return to God naked.The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken. May the name of the Lord be blessed.” (Job 1:21)
When the devil's trials had ended, God blessed the latter end of more than his beginning (Job 42:10-17)
Moses, the sheer weight of it all
For forty years, Moses lived in Pharaohs palace, as a prince of Egypt, although he was born a Hebrew. When he went down into the mud pits of despair to see his own people, he slew an Egyptian in outrage and anger over the torment of his people. For this he faced execution, so needs be he fled from his stately position, into the desert, where he lived as a shepherd for forty more years.
Chosen and sent by God, to deliver His people Israel from the bondage in Egypt, Moses tries to convince God not to send him, because he is afraid to speak in public.
Moses, the ones prince of Egypt, proud and arrogant perhaps, who slew a man out of anger, now shrinks back from the task given him out of fear. God however gives Moses a companion, to stand by him, his brother Aaron, who had no problems with speaking in public.
After God breaks the Egyptian nation with ten plagues and Israel comes out of her, it is Moses who leads the people to the promised land. The people however are stubborn and reject God and serve their own will at almost every occasion, until Moses is heartbroken and cries out to God "What am I to do with these people" (Exodus 17:4)
In the book of Numbers we read Moses exclaiming to God:
“Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favour in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? ... If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favour in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.” (Numbers 11:11-15)
Moses, the appointed man of God, to be the saviour of Israel, the foreshadowing of Christ Himself, who leads us out of the bondage to sin, was a human like you and me... he to battled despair and disappointment.
Jeremiah, successfully unsuccessful
The prophet Jeremiah is also known as the weeping prophet. Jeremiah was constantly rejected by the people he loved and reached out to.
God had called Jeremiah to preach about the coming judgement of the people of Israel. Jeremiah was forbidden by God, to marry and have children. Jeremiah lived alone,
Jeremiah ministered alone, was poor, ridiculed, and rejected by his people, who held little weight to his words. In the midst of it, Despite all of this, Jeremiah displayed great spiritual faith and strength, but he was also honest about his wrestling with despair and a great sense of failure. He wrote:
“Cursed be the day I was born…why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?” ( Jeremiah 20:14 ; Jeremiah 20:18 )
Jesus, from perfect joy to shared grief
The prophet Isaiah described the Messiah, whom we now know as Jesus Christ, as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. A man despised and rejected by man. When Jesus was with the Father, He was the highest being in existence. Out of love, He left that position with all its splendour and lowered Himself, by becoming man, knowing where that road would lead Him, for He planned it all that way, from the start.
He knew what was to come. He knew that before Him lay a journey of great suffering, yet out of love for His sheep, He accepted it.
We do not worship a God that is far away and unfamiliar with our pain, fear and sorrow, For in becoming man, He took all those things upon Himself and was in all things likewise tempted, but without sin. As is written in Hebrews 4:15 .
We can be assured, that, whatever we have to deal with in our lives, Jesus understands our weakness and suffering, our greatest times of temptation and despair, because He too travelled that road, but in it all triumphed over sin.
A light temporary affliction
It is written that The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18) . We must always remember that, however difficult the road ahead becomes, two things remain certain.
One, In our trials and tribulations, God Himself is close to us. Jesus Christ knows what you are going through, for He went through all of it Himself.
Two, God makes all things work together, for good, for those who love Him, for them that are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
ALL THINGS ! Be they sickness or sorrow or death or loss or persecution or tribulation. God will make them all servants of you, by using these things to grow us each day more and more into the image of Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
That is why we can always rejoice, even in our sufferings. For they work to produce endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope, which will not put us to shame. (Romans 5:1-5)
In this life we will have trouble, but we can rejoice, for Jesus Christ has overcome this world. As far as we suffer in this life, it is but a momentary light affliction, which is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
Better days ahead
The Psalmist wrote: "Why are you so troubled within me ? Hope in God ! for I will again praise Him" (Psalm 43:5)
In my own battles with depression, this verse has been the beacon of light, perched atop the Rock of Christ Jesus, which served as my guiding star, until I reached the calm waters and rest of that sweet surrender to Gods will.
There will come a day my dear brothers and sisters, when Christ Himself will wipe away every tear and heal every wound in our hearts. Until then, we are safe in His hands, from which none will pluck us away... regardless of what our hearts tries to tell us.