My friend approached me yesterday after church. “Um, Lisa, you know how you said you were depressed after you had your youngest son? Well, I was wondering…well…like, what did you do? How did you get over it?”
I wish I could say I had some wonderful advice and an encouraging word for her.
Instead, I stammered and stuttered, fumbled and faltered, offering little by way of encouragement other than “yeah, I was depressed and yeah, I lived through it.”
See, a drowning man (or woman) can’t save another drowning man (or woman).
In case you couldn’t tell from all the doom and gloom masquerading as blog posts around here, I am in what seems to be a melancholy kind of funk myself. Not exactly the kind of posting to garner many readers, that’s for sure. I mean, I grow weary of writing it, surely you grow weary of reading it! But it is what it is. Though you and I may wish otherwise, I cannot pretend a levity I do not feel.
So this morning, as I thought of my friend and her depression and of myself and my melancholy tendencies, I was reminded of a sermon by John Piper that I listened to not long ago. His text was Psalm 42, a favorite passage of mine perhaps because of my funk-y inclinations. I have often taken the words of this psalm and directed them back to God as my prayer and plea.
In this sermon, Piper makes some observations that encourage me greatly in the midst of my melancholy…
To remember. “These things I remember, as I pour out my soul; how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God…” How our enemy wants us to forget the faithfulness of our God! If we forget His faithfulness to us yesterday, we will doubt His faithfulness today.
To preach the gospel to myself. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” To know joy even in depression, I must know the truth. I must choose to believe God’s word despite my feelings. I must rejoice in my salvation and my God, placing my hope in Him who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us, His beloved children. Sometimes, and I speak for myself not my friend, my depression is really an extreme form of self pity and a preference for the joys of this world that appear to elude me. I forget the depth and depravity of my sin and the terrible price paid for my salvation. Preaching the gospel to myself–remembering the cross–lifts my heart from the empty and elusive joys of this life to pursue the eternal joys of Christ.
To sing. “at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life” Depression is a darkness, I think those of us who have experienced it would agree. I think of Paul and Silas in prison, offering a sacrifice of praise, singing to the God of their lives at night. May I do likewise.
To affirm the sovereignty of God. “all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.” The difficult things that come, come to us by the sovereign hand of God who does all things well and works all things for our good and His glory. His breakers. His waves. A hard truth in the midst of a melancholy funk, but an even harder truth for those who have been crushed by the weight of difficult and heartrending breakers. May we cling to the sovereign grace of our Lord, trusting Him to work it all out according to His purposes. He is good and He will show Himself faithful.
To thirst for God. “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Isn’t it interesting that the psalmist doesn’t ask for relief from his circumstances? I know I do! Instead, he asks for God…
“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” (Ps. 27:4)
“I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philip. 3:8)
“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinner such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Heb. 12:2-3)
Whether you can commiserate with me and my friend in our funk, let us all press on in faith, choosing to trust our God, knowing these light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory. May He use our depression to teach us more of Himself, refining our faith, proving us genuine, conforming us to the image of His Son. Let us look to Him; He is sufficient!