“God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you
as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training,
the normal experience of children... so why not embrace God's training
so we can truly live?" Hebrews 12:12-13 The Message
When depression attacks, my prayer life tanks, worship is difficult and I rarely 'get anything' out of the Bible. I confess my usual default isn’t to immediately run to my friend, Jesus (I’m working on that). But there is something that helps nudge me back in a healing direction. God says that the Word washes my mind, renewing it according to God’s way of thinking. So when I sense that creeping dullness that precedes the stifling black-out of depression, I read my Bible—even when I’m having trouble reading anything. I read, even when I don't want to...even when I have trouble focusing. I read, knowing that the Bible is not just words on pages, but living, active, fulfilling the purpose of God, with power to rescue and heal. I read, telling myself that God is greater—greater than my circumstances, greater than disappointment, greater than my brain chemistry. I read, asking God to renew my mind, to redirect it to more healthy paths. I read, reminding myself that I am God’s and He will keep me and He will heal me and He will provide for me. I let the Word correct my destructive thinking, affirming what God says about me and my life.
I have to tell myself and keep telling myself, because there is nothing in my senses or emotions that tell me it’s true. In depression I don't usually get bright, light bulb moments of inspiration. I have to go on faith alone. And that may be the point, if there can be a point to the devastation that is depression. These seasons of darkness, though terrible, are teaching me not to trust my senses, but to keep believing what God says. He is taking what the enemy means for my destruction and using it to train my hands for war. It's not magic or simplistic, but it is simple. When I'm folded in on myself, I can't do will power, or deep thinking...or rational thinking, for that matter. Sometimes I can only do a verse, but that one line becomes a lifeline anchored in the reality of God. Tethered to Him, I'm held secure against the current that seeks to sweep me away.
When I’m in the midst of the battle (which always feels like death), I repeat to myself what I’ve learned—that even though it seems I am trapped in a deep, black hole with no way out, I am actually walking very slowly through a deep, black tunnel. That makes a huge difference, for a tunnel goes through, which means eventually I will come out the other side. I've learned to accept by faith that, even though I cannot feel or see Him, God is with me in the tunnel, prompting me forward one baby step at a time. Though it feels I am not moving at all, I’ve learned that if I keep calling on Jesus, I cannot fail to come back into the light (but it always seems like an excruciatingly long time).
Those dark seasons have taught me what I perhaps would not have learned any other way…that the tiny pilot light ignited by the Spirit cannot go out, for He guards it jealously. He loves me all the more fiercely, when I'm in that dark place where I am disgusted with myself for my weakness and faithlessness and failure. He holds on to me, when my fading strength loses its grip on Him. Through His Word, He breathes life and light back into my emptiness. His whispers override the shouts of the enemy, telling me truths more substantial than mountains. He promises that I will not only survive but end well. I am grateful that my fallen brain with its hinky chemical pathways is not the final answer. Thank you, God for the cleansing power of Your Word.
* Caveat: If you are clinically depressed, do not be too embarrassed or ashamed to see a doctor. If you broke your leg, you wouldn't wonder if it was a lack of faith to have it casted. Medication is not the devil. Christians often suffer needlessly, because the church doesn't always embrace those suffering from this illness. And it is an illness, not character weakness! I was once told that all healing comes from God, but sometimes you need medicine in order to get up and get your healing from God. Good advice.