Walking with Him through depression

Disclaimer: To those who know me in real life…I am not currently depressed. Although this is something that I do struggle with, I’m ok right now. Please don’t worry about me. The timing of this post is entirely dependent upon what I read today during my devotions.

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Sunlight streams in through my open bedroom window. It’s a beautiful Southern California day; 78 degrees and perfect.

Despite this, depression lingers. Feelings of loneliness, self-doubt, sadness overwhelm me. The ordinary seems extraordinarily difficult: showering, laundry, dinner. In these moments I just want to nestle here in my bed, surrounded by down and cotton. I want solitude, comfort, quiet.

Instead, I hear the promptings of the Spirit:

“Get up and eat.”

Elijah was a man of God who struggled with depression. In 1 Kings 19, while fleeing from the death threats of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, Elijah succumbs to his feelings of despair:

“He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.'” (1 Kings 19:4)

I have had enough…

Depression causes you to feel that you have given your all and it’s not enough. The exertion that is required to crawl out of it seems beyond what you are capable of.

I’ve always felt that my struggle with this is a handicap for my life. There is something flawed inside of me that keeps me from feeling joy.

Today I was reading an excerpt from My Utmost for HIs Highest by Oswald Chambers on “Taking the Initiative Against Depression.” It offered me a new perspective on this silent enemy I’ve battled with for so many years:

“If we were never depressed, we would not be alive—only material things don’t suffer depression. If human beings were not capable of depression, we would have no capacity for happiness and exaltation.” ~ Chambers

We would not be alive…

How can he say that when depression makes me feel like I’m not alive? I become numb to the world around me and ambivalent to those people and things I normally am passionate about.

Then I think about it more; and it begins to make sense. The capacity to feel emotion means that in addition to feelings of joy and elation you are also capable of feeling despair and sadness.

Chambers notes God’s response to Elijah’s depressed declaration. Instead of providing Elijah with spiritual or emotional support, God sends an angel to Elijah who says, “Get up and eat.” (1 Kings 19:5)

“Depression tends to turn us away from the everyday things of God’s creation. But whenever God steps in, His inspiration is to do the most natural, simple things-things we would never have imagined God was in, but as we do them we find Him there. The inspiration that comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression. But we must take the first step and do it in the inspiration of God. If, however, we do something simply to overcome our depression, we will only deepen it. But when the Spirit of God leads us instinctively to do something, the moment we do it the depression is gone. As soon as we arise and obey, we enter a higher plane of life.” ~ Chambers

If our focus is to overcome depression, it will only deepen it…

One of the major problems with depression is that it feeds on itself. I get into this downward spiral of thinking that causes me to become more depressed…because I’m depressed. My vision becomes more and more pinpointed on myself, and less on God and the world around me.

As soon as we arise and obey, we enter a higher plane of life…

When I catch a glimpse of what my depression is doing to Josh, the kids, our home…that’s when I begin to make the effort to pull out of it. I have to take my eyes off myself.

God didn’t tell Elijah that it was all going to be ok. He didn’t coddle him. Instead, He provided nourishment and perspective. Elijah ate and, refreshed, was able to travel for 40 days and 40 nights (1 Kings 19:8). He pushed on.

That’s what happens when we turn from trying to overcome the depression and, instead, place our eyes firmly on God and obey. He gives us the baby steps to get back to normal life.

** I’m not discounting those situations that require medication, counseling or more to overcome depression. I am fully aware that there are multiple levels of depression. I don’t want anyone to feel that I’m saying that in taking medication or attending counseling they are not trusting God to heal them. In fact, if not for all the nursing and pregnancy I’ve been doing for the past umpteen years, I myself would have tried medication in my struggle with this.
**Also shared at Walk With Him Wednesday @ Holy Experience

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8 Comments

  1. linda says:

    Thank you so… I do roller coaster with depression as I caregive for 11 years for my mother. I needed to read this and trust in God’s Holy ways. Thank you, thank you.
    ~ linda

    1. Melissa says:

      Linda ~
      I’ll be praying for you that as God uses you to care for your mother, He also provides people in your life to care for you. I’m glad God was able to use me to bring you some encouragement!

  2. Trisha says:

    You rarely read about depression on Christian blogs. You are so right about fixing our eyes on Christ. Often, the more depressed people are, the more introspective they become, and the cycle never ends. One of the most encouraging books I’ve read about depression, and recommended to anyone who strugges with it, is Spiritual Depression by Martin Lloyd Jones. It’s not what one would expect…it’s much deeper and more thorough. I’m sure your post is an encouragement to many. Thanks for walking on ground that many fear to tread.

    1. Melissa says:

      I’ll have to check out that book! Thanks for the recommendation. You’re right, I haven’t heard too many Christians talk about depression…but I don’t think it has quiet the stigma it used to. I’m reading Sheila Walsh’s new book right now and she talks about her struggle with overcoming it and how people in the Christian community reacted to her. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Danielle says:

    Thanks for sharing this. My husband also highly recommends “Spiritual Depression” by Martin Lloyd Jones. Anyway, this post on Elijah also reminds me of Hannah, who struggled with the circumstantial depression of barrenness. Yet, when at last she truly turned this struggle over to God, she too got up and ate and her face was no longer sad. God gave her spiritual and physical nourishment, just like Elijah.

  4. Hi Melissa,

    I had struggled with depression for decades without hope until I worked through a book called “Learning To Tell Myself The Truth”. It doesn’t mean I don’t experience depressing feelings, but I learned how to handle and manage them better — so that I can respond differently — rather than spiraling out of control.

    I still have my ups and downs, but I know now better how to navigate through the downs so that I’m not stuck indefinitely.

    If you happen to read it, drop me an email – I’d love to know what you think.

    I’m actually going to be speaking on this very topic & doing a workshop on it next week at a woman’s group! :)

    It’s awesome that you wrote a blog post about this!! It takes away any guilt or shame. We all experience these feelings.

    Blessings!

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll add it to my book reading challenge list & let you know what i thought. :) I’ve never really heard anyone speak about depression…it would be interesting to be there for yours. Hope it goes well!

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