A goofy old Country Music song goes, ‘Gloom despair and agony on me. Deep dark depression excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Gloom despair and agony on me’.
Clinically speaking, depression can be easily defined. But, until it’s been experienced, it is hard to understand. This was true for me. I had counseled, prayed with and attempted to help more than a few people deal with depression. Hearing their descriptions of a ‘darkness that is so real, so present that you can literally FEEL it’ meant much more to me once I had felt its menacing grip. Throughout my experience, I came to more readily understand the Apostle Paul’s comment that he ‘despaired even of life’.
Like so many others, I went through the common process of seeking medical help and attempting to win the ‘hope battle’. For eight months, I daily wrestled with and struggled to shake the grip of this unwelcome attachment. In the end, I had discovered three powerful antidotes to depression: the precious presence of God, the piercing light of truth and the profound strength of the prayers of loved ones.
These three components prepared the pathway that I walked to freedom. Please let me explain.
When my medical tests returned with normal readings–my doctor said that he wished he had MY numbers– I called the Elders of the church to pray for me. Lovingly and gently, they came to our home repeatedly to offer love, support and prayers. God answered those prayers and began to renew my strength, at least enough to take the next step. Once, while sitting at a favorite spot near our fireplace, Lydia Grace, our youngest daughter, bounced into the room in her normal carefree 5 year old exuberant way and asked me directly if she could read a verse from the Bible for me. I knew that she knew the alphabet, but I also knew that she would not be able to read a lot of verses from the Bible. So I said, “Yes you can, but would you like to find the verse and let me read to you”? She was happy to comply. Now I’m not a fan of the so called ‘inspired finger’ approach to Bible reading where you let your Bible fall open, put your finger on a text and assume that God wants you to read that passage as the answer to your questions. On this occasion, however, I wondered if God would reach out to me through her childlike faith. Finding the place in her Bible and marking it with her finger, she brought it to me. Looking down and with tears beginning to form in the corners of my eyes, I read the words she pointed to: ‘As a father has compassion for His children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust’. Psalm 103:13-14. In that moment, the light of scripture truth shone through and I realized that I had developed an ‘exaggerated’ view of the world around me with all of its troubles and an ’emaciated’ view of God within me with all of His compassion and strength. This revelation prepared me for the experience that set my foot on the path of deliverance. March 21st of that year, while outside splitting some fireplace wood to bring in and fix a fire, something flew close to my face. I instinctively swatted at it as if it were a fly or something. When it happened again, I swatted but looked to see what it was. I could hardly believe that I was watching a monarch butterfly fluttering around my face. I KNOW… A butterfly in Wisconsin in March with snow on the ground! The improbability of the incident caused me to wonder what God intended to teach me through the event. Once inside, I rethought through the process of caterpillar transformation and focused on one particular moment in its life cycle.
There is a moment when the worm becomes completely vulnerable to all elements around it: the moment it finally closes it cocoon and rests. There it is, hanging by a thread, swinging in the breeze and open to attack with no recourse for survival. In that moment, it must willingly or not, submit to the process of transformation that God, the Creator, designed. Patiently it waits. God does His Divine work and a butterfly emerges. God’s lesson was clear: like the caterpillar, my transformation occurs as I submit to His choice of life altering events and receive the change He has designed for my life.
I can’t say, nor would I suggest, that knowledge of this truth sort of ‘turned the lights on’ and I was immediately stronger. I wasn’t instantly changed. However, I did have enough light shed on God’s chosen path for me that I could begin walking forward in faith. And that is what I did. Eventually, by God’s grace, I strengthened, grew and received victory over my depression.
Your experience will likely be somewhat different than mine. But there are a few words of counsel that I would give to anyone that desires deliverance. Those words come from Jeremiah 29:13-14a: ‘You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with your whole heart. I WILL BE FOUND BY YOU…’.
Those words are for kings as well as servants, the prosperous as well as the poor, the strong as well as the weak, the healthy as well as the sick and the popular as well as the obscure. All are told to SEEK. And so all must SEEK.
But consider these truths carefully. You cannot find if you only pretend to seek. You cannot hear if you only pretend to listen. And you don’t have faith if you only pretend to submit.
With your WHOLE heart, seek Him, reach out for Him and find Him. Know that depression cannot limit God’s presence and it cannot obscure His truth. He will be found by you and show you ‘great and unsearchable things that you do not know’. Jeremiah 33:3.
Today, turn to Him, find Him and trust Him. Human depression MUST give way to God’s DEITY.