Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Sacred Selah Ministries staff.
“For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near. I am as good as dead, like a strong man with no strength left. They have left me among the dead, and I lie like a corpse in a grave. I am forgotten, cut off from your care. You have thrown me into the lowest pit, into the darkest depths. Your anger weighs me down; with wave after wave you have engulfed me.”
*Sigh* King David, you took the words right out of my mouth! What an amazing word picture, capturing the embodiment of true depression. Only a fellow sufferer would agree, because depression is a feeling that transcends all logic. If you share with a logical mind, “this is killing me” and you are met with a furrowed brow, the logical thinker is saying, “How in the world are they relating a feeling to actual death?” One might answer, “Because my soul is dying from this deep anguish!” Those who have felt the effects of melancholy rely greatly on metaphors to create a picture for those who can’t grasp the pain. Jesus taught using metaphors and parables. He gave David the gift to do the same and that gift was also given to us.
David sounds so dramatic in Psalm 88, when he says, “I lie like a corpse in a grave,” but clearly, he is alive in part because he is writing. I can imagine the responses he might get from someone who doesn’t understand.
“Well, David, you’re not a corpse and you aren’t covered in dirt six feet below ground. God could never forget you, He created you! How could you possibly accuse God of not caring for you, David? You’re sitting on the ground, no one has thrown you into a pit, and look…there is the sun, what do you mean you are in darkness?”
This is how I imagine a logical minded, unsympathetic christian would talk to David if they met him today. The problem is, he was extremely dramatic with his emotions, but God never made him feel foolish for emotionally “bleeding out” in his prayers.
We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus…and ears, and mouth and mind. Have we forgotten His compassion towards people? He cares about all people and all afflictions! Does this society we live in honestly believe God hears the cry, “I’m dying” from someone who has been fighting cancer anymore loudly or clearly than a downcast spirit declaring the same words?
My original intent was to write practical steps to “Starve the Depression Beast”, but I believe my assignment is to encourage all those discouraged souls who have been looked down on by so many confused Christians. I have to abandon my original intent, because the truth is, I have been asking God all week to give me the steps and I have been met with great silence. So, I changed my prayer to, “God give me wisdom, only allow me to speak what you would have me say.” If you are reading this, you are my assignment, or you are the one who will deliver this message to the assignment.
I came across a book last week that has ministered to my soul more than any other book I have read on depression. If I could only recommend one book to those who struggle with depression, it would be Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who suffer from depression by Zack Eswine. I found such hope in this book from realizing I am not insane for having feelings as fierce as I do. Eswine sprinkles his opinion and findings throughout the book, but a large majority is taken from Charles Spurgeon’s writings on depression. I feel so strongly connected to Spurgeon’s descriptions of depression that I’m convinced I am just a female version of this man from the 1800’s.
“The mind can descend far lower than the body, for in it there are bottomless pits. The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in ten thousand ways, and die over and over again each hour” -Spurgeon, “Honey in the Mouth”-
Here we see another word picture being created. Spurgeon is describing the mind as a place with bottomless pits. I found it interesting that Spurgeon’s description of depression included a bottomless pit. King David mentioned being thrown into “the lowest pit” and months ago before I read either of these mentioned here, I shared a prayer on my website that depicted being in a pit with no ladder to climb out.
“My head is full of thoughts of self-loathing, unable to see any good inside myself. I am in a pit and no one has thrown me a ladder, just a rope that I am too discouraged to even attempt to climb.” Depression: A silent War, Tiffany Wilson
When I wrote this in January of this year (2020), I was creating a word picture of my own. I was diving a little deeper than just feeling stuck in a pit to using the analogy of being thrown a rope instead of a ladder. This analogy is in relation to Christians and experiences I have had in the past. People often seem to care enough to throw down a rope, but what I really need is a ladder for my feet to climb. The picture is a descriptions of pulling myself up with my shaky hands and flimsy arms versus having a solid place for my feet to land along the way, traveling up and out of the pit.
This brings me to my next point: the depressed need to rest! If I can impart any wisdom to you that has been revealed to me these past few months, it would be to allow yourself to rest. There is a reason we use such dramatic words to describe depression, because what we feel emotionally, our bodies feel physically. There will be many you come in contact with that will tell you to pray harder, believe better and cast the enemy out in Jesus name. I encourage you to create a safe space for yourself, that allows the Lord to love you right where you are. I have questioned many times, “If other people are disappointed in me for being depressed, is God?” Although I was unable to hear his reply because I was too distracted by the discouragement everyone else was making me feel, God did not give up on answering me. He loves me so much that he used three different people in a matter of one week to tell me exactly how much He loves and accepts me (and these were people who knew very little about me, I might add, for those of you who struggle with unbelief).
When everyone seems to be against you, God is for you. His timing is perfect! His love is real and his compassion has the ability to warm his children to their core. Others may make you feel like God is disappointed in you because “Christians shouldn’t be depressed”, but I assure you, the enemy is using them to speak shame into your heart. I am not saying they malicious in their attempt to encourage you, I am saying those deceived and not walking according to the spirit can be used to hurt others. Emotions are not a sin, acting out of our emotions can make us sin, but being depressed in and of itself is not a sin.
Dear Lord, Wrap your loving arms around those who are beaten down and trampled over by words intended to uplift, but have done the opposite and thrown them deeper in despair. Speak to their souls that Your love will never fade, but will transcend any bottomless pit they have been trapped in. Take the shame of disappointment and embrace them with unconditional love and acceptance. When all they feel is a blanket of heaviness, protect their minds from the discouragement that You must be disappointed in their inability to praise and be thankful. Catch every tear, like I know you do, and show them You cherish the one you created to cry so freely and feel so fiercely. In Jesus name, Amen.
Tiffany Wilson has struggled her whole life with negative body image and low self-esteem. Now, at the age of thirty-one she is beginning to realize her desire for beauty is vain and her “perfect” image is unattainable.
Her battle with wanting the perfect body was minor compared to what she later discovered. When Tiffany was twenty-two she was diagnosed with social phobia and bi-polar disorder. Unable to control her mood swings she reluctantly sought help.
An ongoing battle ensued as she was given a cocktail of prescription drugs in an attempt to tame her daily turmoil. Early on she was forced to take an anti-psychotic after an episode of “cutting”. When she became sedated to the point of delirium, Tiffany stopped medication.
Unable to handle life after a few short years of self-medicating and addiction she cleaned up and returned for medical assistance. Three years and seventy-five pounds later she again ceased her five bipolar prescribed drugs.
Now, with God on her side, Tiffany lives with bipolar and social phobia one day at a time. She is an avid reader and is currently working on her first novel. She believes her journey has made her compassionate about mental illness, and wants to encourage others that, yes, you can be a christian and have a mental illness. It does not make you less than other believers… you simply have a thorn in your side.