Retreats with God
He leads me beside the still waters...He restores my soul...
Even when the sun shines and we are grateful for every blessing, there are times when some of us may feel an overwhelming sense of a heavy burden and unimaginable fatigue. Sometimes it can stem from our circumstances, like a disaster or loss. Other times, it can be a brain chemistry issue, hormonal imbalance, or even some other unknown reason. Regardless of the cause, you may have felt drawn to this post because you are experiencing these feelings yourself, have experienced them in the past and want to make sense of them, or maybe you're trying to understand what it's like for the sake of a loved one.
Followers of Christ are not immune to depression. Job's sorrows were certainly related to his circumstances, and although he remained faithful, he still suffered greatly with anguish. "And now my soul is poured out within me; days of affliction have taken hold of me. The night racks my bones, and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest." Job 30:16-17 ESV
David was also experiencing feelings of sorrow and woe, and it's evident through the Psalms. Some Psalms reveal him being sorrowful for his sin, like Psalm 51. In Psalm 13, David expresses how depression can feel endless. "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? " Psalm 13:1-2a ESV
And there was Elijah, too.
But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 1 Kings 19:4 ESV
Jesus Himself also experienced feelings of sorrow.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53:3 ESV
Spurgeon's Experiences of Depression
Charles Spurgeon, sometimes called the "prince of preachers," also apparently suffered from depression off and on throughout his life. I highly recommend reading the book "Spurgeon's Sorrows" by Zack Eswine. In this book, Eswine explains how Spurgeon often spoke openly about what he was experiencing with depression in his sermons. The book provides references to his sermons that include insights and biblical hope for those who are suffering from it. I found these references so comforting, because it was obvious that he was clinging to the Savior despite his circumstances, and he knew that God was holding on to him through the turmoil.
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So I'm not alone...but will I be stuck here forever?
Depression can feel like a relentless uphill climb where we're just not making any progress. It can feel like treading water and trying to stay afloat. It can make simple tasks like doing the dishes feel like hauling heavy bricks. Daily expectations can seem insurmountable. In these times, I depend on the Lord for energy and strength to at least do what He sees as important for the day. There are times in my life when I have felt too ill to even do this, and God's grace was still covering me, as He never leaves us or forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:8). What a loving, merciful Father we have!
As far as how long depression lasts, it can certainly depend on a number of factors. We can find that we certainly aren't alone in asking "how long O Lord?" when we read Psalm 13, for example. It is wise to seek out professional help when it persists for more than a couple of weeks, and even to take medication when it is recommended. And above all, cling to Jesus in the storm. He is our healer and sustainer. His Holy Spirit fills us with joy, and even when we don't feel joy, we can stand on the truth that His presence is still with us. He is ENOUGH for us. His grace is sufficient for us, for His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
There are countless promises that God gives us as encouragement and hope for depression.
First, we can cry out to Him. Psalm 40:1-3 says "I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord." What a tremendous promise! He hears our cries, He draws us out of the pit, He makes our steps secure, and many people will see what He has done in our lives and then put their trust in the Lord.
We can comfort others because of the comfort we have received from Him. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
He intercedes for us. Sometimes depression can cause our thoughts to be clouded and make it difficult for us to focus in prayer. I like to think this is why simply crying out to God is encouraged in the Psalms. We can also be encouraged that the Spirit is interceding for us when we "don't know what to pray for as we ought." Romans 8:26
There is a time to weep. Ecclesiastes 3:4 acknowledges that there will be times when being sorrowful is appropriate. Regardless of the reason behind your feelings, pour out your heart to God freely. He understands and has "carried our sorrows" Isaiah 53:4.
Nature can be soothing. If the weather allows it, going outside and taking a walk or sitting beside a lake with your Bible and a journal can do wonders. Jesus often went to the garden (Matthew 26:36) or mountainside (Luke 6:12) to pray.
He will strengthen you. Isaiah 41:10 NKJV "Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
Tell someone of Christ's sacrifice and what God's grace means for us. Reflecting on the amazing grace of our Lord and the fact that He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His Son (Colossians 1:13-14) gives us eternal hope to share with ourselves and others. Considering the gospel and what Jesus has done for us really puts our temporary feelings in perspective, and allows us to stand firm in truth (Eph. 6:13) and be rooted and grounded in His love (Eph. 3:17).
If you're experiencing depression, or have a loved one going through it, mending may not always happen quickly. Of course, our God is mighty, and He may choose to heal us however He sees fit! Regardless of what happens, we can take heart that even when we are in the midst of the storm, we have His hope as a sure and steadfast anchor for our souls (Hebrews 6:19).
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Hi, I'm Tessa! I suppose I could sum myself up by confessing I am a crazy cat lady, amateur sewist, nature lover, bookworm, fabric fanatic, mental health advocate, craft enthusiast, tea addict, and an 'old soul.' Jesus is my all in all, and I'm so thankful that His love NEVER fails.