The more I read the bible the more I realise how many of the characters we read of suffered from low mood, or anxiety, or stress or depression. These were the kings ( Saul, David) and the leaders ( Gideon) and they were no less used by God, or loved by God, because of the darkness that sometimes surrounded them.
Why am I writing about depression today ? Yesterday I read the most harrowing and honest portrait of depression written by the comedienne Ruby Wax, from within a very black period. And I remembered what it’s like to be in the place she’s describes where you feel as though your ‘self’ has left and you are not sure who inhabits your skin. I’m not there today, I haven’t been there for quite a long time now, and I am grateful for that, and for the things that have lifted me out, but I wanted to acknowledge today that this can be a particularly difficult time if you are in the blackness, and everyone around is seemingly happy and full of feelings.
“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42 v 5
As Ruby Wax writes in her article, there is no knowing why the depression comes, nor when it will go away. There are no answers to the questions of why a soul is downcast and disturbed. It’s just how it is. And I love in these verses that no answer is given, and I am also strengthened by the Psalmists decision to hope in God. This response is nothing to do with feelings, it is an act of will.
Last year when I really was at the end of myself, a friend urged me to hope in God. She told me that actually I didn’t need to do anything for that to happen, because God had already done it all. That was such a relief because I didn’t have the strength to do anything for myself. I just believed that God had done it and was there. Even in the darkness.
And so as the days are short and the light is hard to find, please remember those around you who are struggling in deep darkness. And I pray that we would all see the glimmers of light as we draw closer to remembering the coming of Christ into our dark and painful world.
I will yet praise Him. My Saviour and my God.