Depression is likely the loneliest, most difficult life-challenge we can face. It is a condition that exhausts the mind and body of hope, strength, motivation, and courage.
“My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’
These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God… with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.
I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have You forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?’
My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me… Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
~ Psalm 42:3-4,9-11
At the risk of sounding like an over-simplified explanation of Depression, there are basically two categories of Depression’s causes.
1. A Chemical Imbalance in the body. There are many, many chemicals and hormones that our body produces for its healthy functioning. The brain is an organ that [it is estimated] uses 20% of the energy that the body generates and uses. The brain, as an organ, requires a strict balance of chemicals and hormones to function according to God’s original design. A change in that chemical balance affects thought patterns, reasoning skills, IQ level, memories (saving and recalling), emotions… and the long list goes on.
2. A Circumstantial Stress that challenges our belief system, bringing on doubt and expectation of further pain and disaster.
Both causes influence each other, creating a downward spiral that takes the whole person deeper and deeper into a darkness of soul that is likely unmatched in life.
Of all the life-challenges we may face in our 80+ years of living on earth, Depression has been so misunderstood that most people are left to fight through their war by themselves.
Our Depression emphatically yells like a devil down into the dark pit that we are in, mocking us and telling us that God has abandoned us. (Have you heard that wicked voice too, reverberating down to the bottom of the dark pit that you are in?)
Jesus experienced some times of deep depression, including while hanging on the Cross. He cried out, “Father, why have You left Me?” He too heard that voice of depression that reverberated down into the pit of His despair, and He felt abandoned! His hope was dashed.
Father God, however, did not abandon His Son. He was raised back to life within 3 days, having accomplished the mission of the Cross. You may feel abandoned, but Father God has a plan for your resurrection from the pit of despair that you are in.
In times of Depression we must navigate through the dark terrain of our life-challenge by [in terms of an airplane pilot] using instruments only. We truly must “walk by faith, and not by sight.”
When we are healthy, our emotions add color to our view of life, providing some definition and enjoyment to the overall big picture. When our system is unhealthy, our emotions distort the overall picture that we see, causing us to crash if we rely on them to be fairly accurate representations of reality.
Without addressing the pros and cons of medicinal treatments here, let me point to the overall strategy for being an overcomer.
Call out to God verbally, like the Psalmist did in Psalm 42. Sometimes we might be so depressed and exhausted that we cannot find the strength nor the motivation to pray. But I’m not talking about a lengthy prayer (though if you can, go for it!). I’m talking about a verbal call to God for help… “Jesus, please help me!”
If those four words are too much (I know what that is like!), stir up your entire being so you can verbally say… “Jesus!”
If that one spoken word requires more strength and motivation than you can muster (only people who have experienced deep depression know what that is like; the struggle is absolutely real!), then simply in your mind call out… “Jesus!”
Our most muted thought, when directed to the Lord, is heard in His ear like a bone-rattling thunder clap!
I am praying with you, and praying for you. Depression is a very, Very, VERY real war. And so is the victory that Jesus brings to us!