I have been depressed for several months now. Like a heavy blanket of sadness, I couldn’t flip off. No one could change the way I felt, including me. The weight became more oppressive, and I seemed to be sinking into a pit I wouldn’t be able to get out of on my own. I don’t know how it started, and I blamed it on many things like the long cold winter, then the cold rainy spring, then my weight, then the political climate of this country and the list went on and on. I really knew none of those things even combined could make me feel so hopeless.
I’ve had friends who are clinically depressed, and I wondered if that was my problem. I have friends who have chemical imbalances, and they sometimes sink into a depression. I have battled depression all my life, which have led me into some bad decisions which caused more misery. It’s a vicious cycle, I think.
I was scared, and so was my husband. He hid his gun for fear I would commit suicide. I was not that hopeless. I considered going to my doctor and seeing if there was a medication she would prescribe, but that would be admitting defeat. Feeling defeated would only make things worse in my eyes,
I also felt far from God. I had my usual quiet time alone with God, but it felt empty. I felt like my prayers were heard, but I didn’t feel His Presence as usual. I tried new online devotions by well known and respected Christian teachers. I bought a great book called, “Restoration Year,” by John Eldredge. Although I use to get up at 5:00 to have a time with God I found myself in the last months sleeping in until I had a headache from too much sleep. I tried and true method from years past which is repeating over and over, “Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Lord of my life,” It didn’t help. I tried rebuking Satan, the probable cause of depression. Nada…. I tried retail therapy.
This morning I was reading in a devotional by Billy Graham called, “HOPE for Each Day.” No matter what you think of Billy Graham, he was a picture of a devoted Christian. He understood how to live the Christian life better than anyone. I think. His devotional today reminded me of another time I was profoundly depressed, and a scripture put to music released me from that depression. The Scripture is Isaiah 26:3, You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You.
I often pray without ceasing; I try to love at all times. I read my Bible. I start each day spending time with God, no matter how long I sleep in. I thought I was doing things right. I thought I was staying close to the Shepherd as they say. I attend church; I do good things, I provide for the poor as much as I can. In all of that, I was focused on “doing.” I was telling myself I had to do more. I had to give more. I sincerely thought yesterday that my focus has been too much on myself and not enough on others. I needed to do more for others, I thought.
The solution, as Isaiah suggests, is not focusing on anything in this world. It’s all temporary and will only satisfy our soul hunger for a short time. Or in the case of political problems only torment us for a short time. There is a much larger picture going on, and we can be a part of it. It will include being more loving, giving of ourselves to help others, contributing to the poor and needy, but peace comes from keeping our mind on God and remembering Him as the reason we are doing life.
Through this experience, I have learned a few things as I listened to others and how they do life. One lady said that when things seem impossible to her as she ministers to others, she says to herself, “But God!” She means that something can seem too big to us or the problem too heavy, “but God” is bigger and stronger. I felt like my ministry is too lame because of the need among the homeless and those who decide to keep their baby despite an unwanted pregnancy is too big for the little I can do. Someone reminded me it’s like the story of the guy who threw starfish back into the ocean as he walked on the beach…..he couldn’t save them all, but to the ones, he did save it was priceless.
So was it depression, or was it a wilderness experience for me? Was it meant to bring me down and make me feel defeated, or was it resetting my life for something new? I don’t know yet. How about you? Do you feel depressed? Defeated? Hopeless? God will keep you in perfect peace when your mind is stayed on God.