I am not new to spiritual depression. It is something I have struggled with in the past, especially after having children and learning about Gabriel’s special needs. But I realize I’m not alone in this. Reading through the psalms, some of the psalmists seemed to have a fair share of despair. I’ve also heard that great preachers, like Charles Spurgeon, was not immune to the touch of spiritual depression. I have found myself questioning my standing before God because of this struggle. Why would a Christian have to fight for joy? Aren’t Christians supposed to be happy all the time?
I’ve had darker days in my past. Perhaps, one day I can write about it in more detail without falling apart in tears, but I don’t think I can do it today. I will tell you, though, that I am grateful to God for His presence during those very difficult years. But, I will still have days, like today, when it seems like those dark clouds are looming over me again, and I feel a strong pull to return to that horrible state of despair and hopelessness. Thanks be to God, who brings me to my senses and reminds me that I can boldly approach His throne of grace, so that I may find help in my time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
Thumbing through my journal, I came across this entry from June 6, 2011 when I was in the middle of a vast ocean of despondency. The Lord spoke to me through His Word then, and re-reading it has lifted up my spirits today.
I read 1 Kings 19 this morning, the account of the prophet Elijah and his dealings with King Ahab and Jezebel. God wanted to show me a picture of depression and how He deals with someone plagued with it.
Elijah had done amazing things, challenging many false prophets and being bold in The Lord. Perhaps he thought this would turn even the hardest of hearts, but Jezebel was unmoved. After putting to death her prophets, Elijah received a death threat from Jezebel. He was overcome with depression for not seeing the results he expected and was fearful for his life. He ran away and asked God Himself to take his life. I have been there … discouraged at the results, especially after my attempts to do God’s will. I have been there … even to the point of asking God to take my life, like Elijah did.
The way God responded to Elijah’s depression is amazing. First, He strengthened him physically by giving him something to eat. I, too, have experienced the physically draining effects of depression. Often, I don’t want to get up. I don’t even want to do the most basic things to sustain life, like eating. But, these are the very things God is telling Elijah to do. [How beautiful to see God’s tender care for his people!]
Then, He spoke to Him in a still, small voice. He wanted Elijah to listen, to be still, to realize that, even in quietness and even when it seems The Lord is not working, He is. Lastly, He continued to use Elijah and gave him a job to do. Despite my weakness, He strengthens me and continues to use me.
He will care for us while in our despondent state, but He will not allow us to remain there. He will tell us to get up and eat. Then, He will tell us to go. He has prepared works for us to do, whether it’s raising a child with special needs, homeschooling different ages of kids, working to support a family, caring for a sick relative, bringing a meal to someone who just suffered loss, praying with someone who has been abandoned by her spouse, or sharing the gospel with friend. Though spiritual depression can seem so paralyzing, we must, by His grace, get up and go, and He promises to be with us.
(Photo Credit 1: kaje_yomama)
(Photo Credit 2: Walt Stoneburner)