Sometimes life isn’t so wonderful. Sometimes life stinks. Sometimes it seems that if there is a God, he must have gone away on a long journey to some distant part of the universe, and doesn’t realize or care what a mess you’re in and how terrible you feel…
Those Christians who are “super-spiritual” will be quick to tell us that “real” believers don’t get depressed, and that it’s “sinful” to feel depressed because “whatsoever is not of faith is sin”. That’s a twisted, cold and smug extrapolation of scripture which ignores the fact that numerous Bible characters, including those who performed the greatest miracles, suffered at times with depression, fatigue, despair, fear and sorrow.
Elijah was so discouraged that he wanted to die (1 Kings 19:4-5). Moses, distressed and at his wits end, asked God to take his life (Numbers 11:10-15). David too felt like giving up:
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” (Psalm 13: 1-2.
In the New Testament Paul confessed to being downcast and fearful (2 Corinthians 7: 5-6). Jesus was “…a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). He wept at the tomb of Lazarus and mourned over the death of the Baptist. He said “blessed (not sinful) are those who mourn” (Matthew 5:4) and Paul said that we should “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). This, and not a lecture on faith, is real love.
There’s a saying that goes something like this: “You find out who your friends are when you’re down and out”. I can vouch for that. I’ve been down and out several times in my life, financially, spiritually and mentally, and I can say without hesitation that I learned a lot about my “friends” and my family, along with other valuable lessons, in those situations.
As long as you have any power of reason and wisdom at all in adverse circumstances they serve as cleansing periods. You find out who really cares about you (if anyone). You find out who really wants to be a Christian-and so does God-and who’s just dabbling, and you find out how strong or weak your own faith is. You discover a lot about the darker side of human nature, which, you become convinced, is the dominant side, and you find out the hard way what’s really important in life and what can be trashed. You learn, if you’re willing, to lean on and trust in God rather than on the material world and the world of men and women.
Here’s something to remember when you’re down and out: did you know that you have many billions of bacteria living inside you? This means you’re never really alone…
When we suffer with depression or just a case of the blues we tend to think we’re alone, but in truth, all of us experience times like this sooner or later: it’s the human condition. Why do we suffer, and why does God allow us to suffer? There are numerous answers to those questions: I’ve written about them before. The main point I want to make here is that although when we’re in the middle of a depression it seems like there can be no benefit to it, there actually is at least one. I believe that in the enormous, incomprehensible will of God; in that giant tapestry called “life”, so big that we can’t see it all from this limited vantage point, God even finds a use for sorrow. Solomon said:
“Sorrow is better than laughter, For when a face is sad a heart may be happy. The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.…” (Ecclesiastes 7:4).
Depression may be clinical and may require treatment. It may be down to our own poor attitude and the negativity we wallow in, so that it grows and festers inside us: this really is something we need to repent of. Or it may be caused by very real conditions and experiences in our life. If we can be wise enough to submit and accept it, we can be broken in a Godly way, in order to be remade by the master craftsman.