There’s a sort of shame to which a Christian is vulnerable when the joy that is rightfully theirs, in fact a fruit of their salvation, eludes them. Am I alone? can turn to I am all alone.
Popular speakers, songs on the radio, Christian books encourage many with their messages of celebration and joy, but the one who feels on the outside in the middle of deep pain might not hear the content in the same way.
Sometimes joy is so far beyond what another’s felt reality is, those celebrations can unintentionally cut deeply. The should-be(s) feel unattainable.
Some might have the best intentions to help someone suffering with depression and believe that they know the answers – the correct perspective or scripture verse that can lift someone right up out of that pit of sadness. But depression can involve an agonizing wait for the darkness to lift. Believers are subject to the effects of this fallen world like anyone else, and depression shouldn’t be over-simplified.
Most believers know the beautiful hope and promises in the Bible. But when those things seem out of reach, it is excruciating. It is so easy to see how depression has its own skewed lens once you’ve been through it and have come out of it. But those in the middle of the dark valley must hold tight to God’s Word and wait for His light as it comes.
I don’t understand every cause of depression, though I know there are a number of factors that can thrust someone into its grip. I am not an expert, but I have walked through this pain.
One of the things that hurts so much with depression is the feeling of failure – not understanding why it’s happening – wondering what is wrong with you. The world carries on, and you feel SO VERY ALONE. You try to figure out how you got here, and why can’t you get up and get out of it? It can lead to self-blame, self-loathing.
You listen to those messages as they scream their subtext – Something is wrong with you, your faith, your eligibility for joy. Somewhere along the way you were disqualified from this thriving, abundant life. That’s a distorted interpretation, a lie that seems so true.
Depression is not a spiritual failure. God is ever close to the broken-hearted.
It is tempting to withdraw from social interaction and hide away. It is painful and difficult to carry on as if nothing’s wrong, so you stay away from probing questions about how you are or what’s new – steer clear of the microscope. The feeling that you could never make someone understand what you’re going through is paralyzing. But it’s so important to stay connected. There are others with strong faith in God who have suffered with depression. Isolation just separates us from the ability to see through another, more healthy lens. If you are low, suffering, let your brothers and sisters be strong to hold you up. Reach out to someone who can encourage you, pray for you, check on you. You are not alone.
Believe it or not, your hard-earned perspective that comes from this suffering and your vulnerability in your pain could make all the difference for someone else who feels alone in theirs. It is not untrue that God uses all of it for His purpose and glory and good. Trust that it is not all for nothing. Trust and rest your mind, for God carries you.
These verses (and many others) have helped me in past seasons of depression – supplying breath for my lungs, and my soul with bread and living water sufficient for the minute, hour, day.
LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. Psalm 131:1, 2
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning – yes, more than those who watch for the morning. Psalm 130:5, 6
Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah Psalm 61:1-4
Hold on, dear friend. There are still wonders to be seen and prayers to be answered. God is still and always will be good. Trust in His word. It is a lamp, a light in the darkness. Trust His love for you. He is your shield, your glory and the lifter of your head.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31