Ecclesiastes 3:1;4 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to weep and a time to dance…”
Maybe it’s because I’m homesick. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been spending enough time with God to talk to Him and listen to Him, praying and worshiping all the while. Maybe it’s because I feel like I’m lost in a sea of people and/or I’m lonely. Maybe it’s because I’m naturally a human and a sinner who struggles in life just like everyone else. Maybe it’s a huge combination of all of those things. Whatever the reason, here lately has been difficult for me, and I have been battling what America calls “depression.”
It’s one of those topics that honestly feels complicated to discuss. Most people shy away from the subject because it makes them feel uncomfortable. I’m never really sure how people are going to react to how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking.
I feel insecure about having those said thoughts and feelings most of the time and fear being vulnerable. I’m most worried that no one is going to understand or relate to me. A lot of the time, I’d rather hide myself away because I don’t want to burden anyone with the fact that I struggle to find interest in things or humor in things. There are also times I don’t know if I am strong enough to play the part and put on a mask so that I’m not a downer.
Then I wonder how God is going to feel about me being so depressed when He is supposed to be my source of all joy and everything good in life. How can I possibly be down in the dumps with a God like Him in my life and with the relationship we have? Why can’t I get out of those dumps? How does He view me? Is He disappointed? Does He still love me? Is my relationship with Him actually going to suffer because of any depression?
The truth is, whether we like it or not, depression is a weapon from the enemy, and it’s more common than we think. We are not alone. In fact, there is a guy in the Bible we might relate to: Job.
The guy has a great relationship with God…so much in fact that Satan challenges God about him. He thinks that he can get Job to curse God and turn away from Him after taking everything he has. God believes that Job will not do as Satan suggests he will. In one day, Job loses all of his ten children, livestock, and servants. Job shaves his head, tears pouring from his eyes, but he chooses to bless God.
God allows Satan another chance to tempt Job. Sores take over his skin, and he is miserable. His wife even tells him to go ahead and curse God and die. But Job takes his circumstances and accepts them, pressing on through the pain and hardship. When his three friends come to visit, Job expresses to them that he curses the day he was born and that light and life itself simply magnify his misery and depression.
His friends think there must be sins or evil committed against God that he is paying for. Then they say his punishments should be worse and that his children incurred their own deaths. Not only did he lose so much, but Job didn’t even have a support group either! Job is bothered by their “wisdom” and lets them know that he has a witness and Redeemer in heaven who can vouch for his innocence.
But that does not stop Job from becoming afraid, worried, impatient, and sarcastic. While Job gets very irritated with God and wants to complain to Him that evil people are prospering while tons of innocent people are being left to suffer, he knows he cannot physically find the Lord. He then decides to just sit and wait patiently, fearing the Lord and straying from evil in the meantime.
Even though his fourth friend is just as “wise” as the others and doesn’t give Job much encouragement, he does say a few interesting things. God communicates with humans by two ways—visions and physical pain…physical suffering provides the sufferer with an opportunity to realize God’s love and forgiveness when he is well again, understanding that God has ‘ransomed’ him from impending death (33:24).
In the end, Job realizes who he really serves. God sees Job’s faithfulness to Him through all of his loss, misery, depression, and hopelessness. He then multiplies everything Job had by two and returns it to him: health, property, and new children.
There is a time and a season for everything. Much like Job—for multiple reasons, some the same as each other, some different—we go through seasons of depression. I call them “drought” seasons. We feel empty, spiritually dry, weak, sad, overwhelmed, or possibly numb. And God knows this. It’s written in His Word that there are times for mourning and weeping. But it also says there are times for laughter and dancing.
The problem, however, is that we often forget to laugh and dance through the weeping and the mourning until the storms of life evaporate. Unlike Job, we often forget to praise the Lord and give Him glory, honor, and blessings to His name when we are down in the dumps and feel like our problems will never pass. Those may truly be two of the reasons that we can’t get out of the depression: 1) Not accepting that sometimes there are seasons in which we will not feel or hear from God directly (even though He is always there with us) and/or that there are seasons we will simply feel dry and empty and 2) Not giving God what He deserves even when we do go through those rough seasons.
The amazing thing about all of this is that we can rest assured that there is a new season coming eventually. For some, it may take years; for others, it may only be a few days. And for the rest, different times in between. But the fact is it will come. We have to trust God that, no matter what season we are in, we can stick to Him in our relationships with Him. He will reveal to us in due time the reasons for our hurts and pains, our sadness, tears, and depressions if it is in our best interests, especially if they can be used to minister to others who are where we have been.
Until then, we must know that God will give us the grace to dwell in these seasons and strength for when we feel weak and as though we can no longer carry on in these seasons. We must lean on Him and know that He is God despite our low days, and we must remember that, much like continuing to worship God in times of darkness, rainbows can still shine through darkened clouds and storms.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel! Keep your head up, and try hiding these NIV verses in your heart for those days that make you feel like you can’t go on.
- Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
- Deuteronomy 31:8 “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
- Psalm 34:7 “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.”
- Psalm 42:11 “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.”
- 1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
- 1 Peter 4:12-13 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
- Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on passionpurposepursuit.blogspot.com
Featured image by Ehud Neuhaus