Day 33 of 40 Days of Grace – How I Found the Good Side of Melancholy
Day 33 – Depression is a delicate subject for believers, but there are grieving hearts, naturally sad people, and a combination of both in every pew. We smile and pretend everything is all right, until it’s so painful we sometimes avoid going to church or slip into the back late and leave early.
Christians are often told to get ourselves together and stop feeling sorry for ourselves, that we’re committing a sin by being depressed, and that taking medicine to alleviate the symptoms of our mixed up brain chemistry isn’t trusting God. I will hypothesize these things are advice from those who never truly faced depression!
Have they read about Job? He sat in the dust scraping his boils and being criticized by friends and unsupported by his wife. He was miserable, but he continued to believe God. It didn’t say he was doing a dance and happy to accept God’s will, but it does say in all he did He sinned not.
Even Jesus cried out to the Father in the garden of Gethsemene, asking God to take away the cup of humiliation, but accepted the Father’s will. Yet I could only imagine His grief when Judas betrayed Him or the people turned their backs on Him, and even knowing Peter denied Him. Jesus knew what the outcome would be, the inevitable victory, but He wept at Lazarus’ tomb and was saddened over Jerusalem. And we know He definitely never sinned.
Genetically speaking I hit the jackpot for melancholy. Both my mother and father and at least one of my grandparents battled it during their adult lives. And so have I. Despite abundant blessings of salvation, family, friends, etc. from my Heavenly Father I still have plenty of glass-half-empty days. Add grieving over difficult circumstances and stir. Sometimes I do err in forgetting to put the focus on Jesus and remembering how good He is and praising Him. But other days, I feel the grieving so keenly that fighting it takes all my energy.
Don’t get me wrong, there is always hope in God’s word. But there are physical and emotional pains we humans don’t get over with in a snap instant, barring a miracle. And why am I writing about depression in a post about grace? Could it be for some of us, and I’m talking about myself here, depression is our thorn in the flesh?
Charles Spurgeon, the famous 19th century preacher, who often suffered with what he referred to as “the dark night of the soul” also suffered much exhaustion and physical pain during his years of dedicated service to God. He referred to grief as “God’s gift to us.”
And why can’t it be? Those glass-half-empty days are the ones I cling closer to Christ, know that without His help I can’t make it through the day. God told Paul His grace was sufficient for him rather than remove the thorn. Jacob wrestled with God, who injured Jacob’s hip to bring the match to a close. Still, Jacob begged to be blessed and to know Who wrestled with him. As he limped away he would always remember his dependence on God.
My husband, Jack, is afflicted the same way. We empathize with one another, share our dark humor, and cling to one another, and to God. Not everyone is married to or has a family member who understands what they’re going through. How hard it must be for them.
I exercise, take my vitamin D, and get out in the sunshine when it’s available. I take time to laugh, to spend time with God in His word, and whatever else I need to do to treat my depression. But through it all I remember I need Jesus, I need His grace every day, and perhaps that is the greatest gift of all.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (1 Corinthians 12:9, NLT)