24 September 2013

Depression hurts

She asked me what I wanted to do and, through tear filled eyes, I responded, "I don't know."  I finally realized something was amiss. 

This summer, Heather and I were discussing details about selling our house. She asked me a simple question, though I don't remember what it was. I only remember that I felt frozen. I felt sad, but for no specific reason that I could identify. I could not answer Heather because I could not think of an answer. I didn't want to have to respond. It took too much effort. And so I started to cry, not just a little bit, I wept.

Augustine discusses the concept of being "turned in on oneself." That phrase captures how I felt this summer. I could not fully attend to those around me--family, friends, those I work with. I could not get out of my own head. I was relationally disconnected, even from those I love dearly. My wife and my mom both knew something was wrong, though I was not in a place where I could see it.

My ability to concentrate was poor. I am passionate about reading, but even those books I managed to get through this summer did little to hold my attention or interest. I felt guilty about many things. Shame blanketed me. I felt pretty worthless. I am not even sure I felt very hopeful that things were going to get better. I kept asking myself is this all there is? I kept admonishing myself to get better, to think my way into a better mood. But nothing worked.
God's people don't get depressed right?  We are saved by God for life eternal. What could be better? Jesus saved me.  There is nothing in my life that brings me greater joy.  Jesus has been the constant truth to which, or to Whom, I cling. Even in my darkest moments, he has been my joy.

But I would be lying if I said I wasn't depressed this summer. It would also be disingenuous if we perpetuated the idea that God's people are always happy.  Jeremiah was the weeping prophet. Jesus was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Job--enough said.

David was a man after God's heart. He was the king of Israel. And yet, he lived through dark seasons. This morning I was reading Psalm 6. David said that he was languishing. This term suggests prolonged suffering. In verse 2, David wrote that his bones were troubled.  He was not merely sad, his body also was affected. If you talk to people who are depressed, you will discover that they can have a host of physical symptoms--aches, pains, weakness and much more.

But his depression affected not just his body, it affected his emotions. It affected his soul.  He felt deeply troubled and longed for God's deliverance. He could not stop crying. He was wearied with fatigue.

And yet, and yet, he hoped in the Lord. In his darkness, he looked to the light.

Christians Get Depressed Too
David Murray, a pastor and professor at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, wrote a book entitled Christians Get Depressed Too.  Churches need to be educated about depression and other emotional issues so they know how to respond with the grace and compassion of Christ rather than adding to the shame and isolation that emotional issues often bring with them.

O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O Lord—how long?

Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?

I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.

Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.
-Psalm Six

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