The Depressed Christian
For me, depression came with the winter, though warning signs signaling its approach could be felt and seen much sooner. A born and bred Southern girl, I’d gotten married, started a new job and moved across the country to Minnesota, all within two weeks and just in time for the cold.
I was tired. Really tired. I was edgy and emotional and anxious. I began noticing that I felt exactly like it looked outside – gray and miserable. Numb. I sank further and further until finally breaking down one day at a work conference. I just couldn’t go through the motions anymore when I felt like I was dying inside.
If you’re in the thick of the dark and lonely hell that is depression, I wish I could wrap my arms around you and cry with you, because I know how badly you hurt. Come take my virtual hand and know you’re not alone.
As a Christian, depression tempted me to distrust God. I was desperately seeking deliverance He seemed to withhold from me.
Why won’t you lift me out of this pit? I’d cry. Aren’t you a deliverer? Why do the voices of despair sound so much louder than yours?
I don’t have the answers. But here are 3 things we can cling to as Christians walking through depression:
- We are not alone.
When I’m depressed, I can’t read about God’s promises. It hurts too much. But within the pages of the Bible, I find friends.
The Bible gives many examples of people experiencing depression, darkness and even frustration with God. He isn’t angered by honest words – He deems them holy. God wants our relationships with Him to be authentic. His mercy reigns even in our brokenness.
The ultimate Friend we find in our pain is Jesus himself. He wept. And on the cross, He experienced separation from God in its fullness. Our Savior knows what it means to suffer.
- God’s love and faithfulness are never dependent on us.
Depression makes it hard to choose the “right Christian things.” I didn’t usually trust God, make a gratitude list, or even recite prayers and Scripture. My shield of faith was often lying next to me on the ground.
I wish Ihad done those things. But in my not doing them, God taught me the most valuable lesson of my life: His love for me is solely dependent on His character, grace and goodness, that’s it, because I’ve placed my faith in Jesus and He’s paid for all my sin and brokenness on the cross, He will never walk away from me. And more incredibly, He doesn’t even want to.
He can handle our doubts, frustrations, failures and darkest moments because He is an astoundingly gracious God. He loves us through it all, because that is simply who He is.
I don’t realize I’m learning this until later – God usually feels distant in the valley. But as things slowly come into the light, I see how God’s been working. He’s in the business of showing us a love we don’t deserve. The realization that it’s about His greatness, not ours, both frees us and glorifies Him.
- Pain doesn’t have to be wasted.
Tears roll down my cheeks when I hear someone say they want to kill themselves, because I’ve been there. Empathy is powerful. It enables us to comfort others and know how to pray for them.
As I was healing from a season of deep depression and anxiety, I got to sit next to a young woman who was in the thick of it. I listened. I offered my story. Tears streamed down her face as she whispered a thousand “Me, too.” I put my arm around this woman and prayed for the things I myself had needed just a few months before.
Ultimately, God will always use us to bring hope to others who are hurting, because we’ve been where they are and made it to the other side. Hope means the most when it’s come, stumbling, out of the dark places.
If you’re depressed, tell someone. Tell a doctor, friend, family member or counselor. Please do not suffer alone, especially if you feel suicidal.
I close my eyes, turn toward the back of the couch and curl my knees up to my chest.
“Don’t hang up,” I cry softly into the phone. “I’m afraid to be alone.”
My husband’s coming home early. Today’s one of the bad days.”
MARY L KEITH