I want to share with you what has become a powerful scripture for me recently while I come to grips with chronic depression.
Before you skip over this post at the mention of some God talk, let’s think back and review all the OTHER things we let ourselves read, post, share, “like” and advocate with a hyper readiness that would challenge the very speed of light.
So ready are we to jump on the “encouraging word” bandwagon, everything from those on line “someEcards” to these profound quotes on our Facebook feed from über-wise celebrities, that I think it’s reasonable that we can take two minutes to hear some wise words from a former shepherd boy turned king of Israel from centuries ago. I know I certainly needed to.
Anyone who suffers from one of the many kinds of mood disorders or depression can tell you that on that familiar downward slide, into your lowest points, you can start to feel absolutely alone and extremely vulnerable.
Irrationally alone. Hyper-vulnerable. And yes, your loved ones can tell you they love you and want to help you. Your friends can tell you a millions times they’re there for you. Your doctors, your therapists, your local pizza guy, and your church can all be on speed dial, ready to assist. But you know what?
In your most depressed state, you cannot cognitively choose to even remember they exist or would help.
Your brain removes the option to recall what could help, or what to do about it if you could. It’s a helpless fog like no other. Unless you’ve experienced it, it’s difficult to comprehend… so that confusion you feel at trying to understand what I’m describing? It’s sorta like that, only magnified by 10. When you hear someone with depression look right at you, and tell you they feel so frighteningly alone… they mean it. Even with you standing right there.
So add to that, the person with depression might be a person of faith! A child of God. A believer. We’re told we have the Creator on our side, holding us in the palm of His hand, that we’re precious in His sight, that He’ll never let us go.
Now go back to that dismal disabling fog. So strong that it renders an unseen God, well, invisible. The one thing we’re to run to in times of trouble. The one thing we’re to cling to. The one thing we’re to lean on. Trust in. Get salvation from. Depression causes Him to seem to disappear, His presence we so value day-to-day, no longer felt. It’s that darned wet blanket all over again.
I know there is a God. I tasted death once, a vicious infection gone wrong, and even the medical community will tell you they witnessed a miracle when I survived ( another story for a completely different day, friends). But on my lowest days, my ability to recall this truth is taken from me, my brain deciding to cross wires and leave gaps. And so I have days where the ability to run to Him is as useless as a trailer in a tornado.
But then I’m reading the Psalms one day.
A book of ups and downs, highs and lows, more defeat than victory if you read closely. If someone said they could prove King David suffered from depression, I’d believe it. Through many of the chapters, he’s in anguish, brought low by his circumstances, AND his own thoughts. In amongst the wisdom and the life lessons is doubt, fear, overwhelming sadness. It resonated with me on a level I had never experienced. As powerful a man as he was, there were days the mighty King David couldn’t get a grip.
And then, tucked into Psalm 119 verses 89 to 94, came this truth that swept an assurance over my bruised and battered, dysthymic soul.
Your word, Oh Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth and it endures.
Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you. If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction!
I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.
Do you see it? I don’t have to feel Him nearby in order for Him to BE nearby. Let me say it again. I don’t HAVE to feel Him, in order for Him to BE RIGHT THERE.
It is not based on me, it’s based on Him.
His word promising to be there is eternal, it says. It stands firm, in the heavens, where nothing can touch it or change it, it says. His faithfulness endures no matter what comes at me, it says.
It also says that if I hadn’t made Him a priority, “I would have perished in my affliction.” Depression is no match for the Creator King. Your situation is no match for the Father God, if you love to live for Him. WHY?
Because of the last line in the verses above. Because His precepts preserve your life. Period.
His precepts, all the things that make him God, propel Him to be, and are in fact, my LIFE PRESERVER.
This is my assurance. That when those storms of depression come, when that disabling fog renders me unable to want help, He can’t help but still BE THERE and bring me through.
But He continues to work on your behalf, dear ones. Like the ship wreak victim tossed in the waves, unconsciously about to sink to the depths, a life vest is tossed over them, and even though unaware, they are anchored to safety, sheltered while the ocean roars about them. I can think of no better way to explain what’s happening, as a believer, behind the hard days, behind the horrible situations, behind the depression.
On my better days, this verse reminds me I am NOT alone. You are NOT alone. He’s faithful to preserve your life.
As you survive each day to start a new one, remember that there’s ALWAYS a place where the Unseen works!