Some of us have lives that are as smooth as silk. They flow from day to day with rarely a downturn to deal with. Others, like me, have lives that are complex and confusing. It often feels as if we have our own little dark cloud over us all the time. We are the ones who suffer from clinical depression.
Now, I am not talking about situational depression, where you suffer when a tragedy happens. That is what we are supposed to feel at that point. No, I am talking about a sadness that is inexplicable and overtakes you without a valid reason. Yes, I know there are medications that can be prescribed for this. However, I have been on those medications for many years and unfortunately, they are not a magic wand.
You see this kind of depression is a physical illness, an illness of the brain. There is some sort of chemical imbalance in the brain that makes it react the way it does, the medications do help but not always and not forever. Do I believe that God can cure this? Absolutely! But, for those of you who would tell me that if I pray hard enough or am a good enough Christian, he will remove it; I remind you that Paul prayed for God to remove the “thorn in his flesh” and God’s response was that His grace was sufficient for Paul. It is sufficient for me also.
Even so, this kind of depression assails my faith. It cannot rock me from the love of the Lord, but it can shake my positive attitude. The hard questions come flying into my mind. Those questions that have no easy answer. If God loves me why am I so sad? Why does God let bad things happen? Why doesn’t God stop the pandemic? Why do innocent children and sweet animals suffer? And my favorite, why doesn’t God punish those who are so mean and vile and vicious?
I have no answers for these questions, I wish I did. However, I do have faith. I have faith that God is with me no matter how deep the pit I fall into, no matter how bad I may think life is at any particular time. And I know that God has given us the Bible, his own Word, to help us through the trying times.
I have a wonderful little booklet of verses for women that I found at the Dollar Tree store. It is called the “NLT Bible Promise Book for Women.” It is just a small booklet but packed with wonderful scripture. If you did not know, Dollar Tree has a nice selection of Christian reading material. I often find small Bibles and other books to use as gifts. The booklet has verses organized by categories; wisdom, confidence, celebration, forgiveness, and truth to name just a few.
So, when I have these periods of depression, I like to keep that little booklet close by. And I go from category to category and read the verses for encouragement. These help to keep my focus on God and not on my feelings. Keeping my focus on God’s loving qualities, prevents me from drowning in doubt from the questions that I cannot answer. I long ago realized that there will always be some questions about God that I will not have answers to until I get to heaven.
There are lots of verses about being able to focus. Lack of focus often accompanies periods of depression. Read Proverbs 4:25 “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” One of my favorites is Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable., whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Now there is a good list of things on which to concentrate.
I am sure you already know this, but the internet is a wealth of information about Bible verses. You can put in the search line “Bible verses about (almost any topic you can think of)” and it will bring back several lists of verses about your topic. While my little booklet doesn’t have a depression category, the internet does. And I will bet you know that the Psalms are one of the greatest resources for uplifting verses. Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Crushed in spirit is such a good description of how one can feel in the throes of depression. Psalm 9:9 “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Or Psalm 30:11 “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” Imagine being clothed with joy. How amazing is that? One more, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
So, my advice is this: Turn to scripture, always, anytime, but especially when you are feeling the weight of the world and can’t focus. God’s word will calm your spirit and ease your mind. He will give you the strength to endure, the downtimes and he will rejoice with you in the uptimes. Wherever you are, God is there too. Remember, He is holding you in his righteous right hand and nothing can snatch you away from him.