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.
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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