April 27, 2017

On struggling through the dark places.

Do you ever struggle with depression? That weighted feeling of emptiness, that dark despondency. That feeling of sinking into dark nothingness.


Do you ever feel utterly alone in your depression? Do you ever feel less-than-Christian for struggling with those feelings?

You shouldn’t.

Why do I say that? Because that’s what I find in my Bible. In God’s perfect and complete Word. In His words that are wholly profitable and always relevant.

I read in there that David got depressed too. You know, the King David. The man after God’s own heart. The one whose hundreds of poems are recorded for us in that holy and perfect Book.

He struggled with the same things we do. Read what he writes in Psalm 38, and see if you can relate:

“O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath! For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me.

There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.

My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me. My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off.

Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my hurt speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long…

Does that sound at all familiar? David knew what depression was. He wrote of feeling like his bones were rotting within, like he was swimming in his bed from all his tears. He wrote of his enemies – and even his “friends” – betraying him and hating him and seeking to kill him. He wrote of feeling so utterly alone, as though he had entered the depths of hell.

And yet, God was there. He never left David alone. He heard David’s cries, bottled up all his tears in His storehouse, and responded to his fears. He restored health to David’s body, renewed his strength and life and energy. He calmed David’s foes, and quieted his so-called friends who had turned against him. He protected David from their hatred.

Read how David talks himself through changing his focus [42:11]:

“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.”

And how God responds to David’s cries and insecurities [40:1-3]:

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”

And how God delivered him, and promises to deliver every single one of His beloved children [34:6-7, 17-19]:

“This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them…

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

If you read through the Psalms, you will find that you are not alone in your struggles. And that you are not condemned for fighting those feelings of darkness and heaviness.

But you do not need to stay in those dark places.

Notice how every time David writes of his depth of emotion – he ends the Psalm by praising his Creator. Every time he feels torn apart and broken down – he finds his wholeness in the Author of life. He does not stay in the dark places, but always turns toward the glory and praiseworthiness of our God.

Depression is a very real struggle. It is hard. It is painful. It feels like a bottomless pit of heavy nothingness. It feels unending.

But that’s why we have these Psalms. That’s why they’re included in the perfect canon of Scripture. So we can learn from them. So we can follow their pattern of not staying in the dark places, but continually turning towards God’s light.

Run to God, cry out in the midst of your pain. Cling to Him, and His words of truth. It’s not a trite answer. It’s not a platitude.

It’s what works, what heals, what makes whole again.

 

→ Have you struggled with depression in the past? What helped bring you out of it? Was it a person, a portion of Scripture, an action you had to take? Share a comment that might help someone else through their struggle.

→ Are you struggling with depression now? Find someone to talk to, who understands that struggle. If you don’t have anyone, send me a message, and I can pray with you and help you fight through it. You don’t have to deal with it alone. You are not alone.

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Comments

  1. Yesterday I read the review written by Tim Challies on the book ‘A Place of Quiet Rest’ by Nancy Leigh Demoss. I saw the comment you left on his review and the link to your website. I subscribed to this site after spending some time yesterday reading through your blogs. I have struggled with anxiety and fear in my Christian walk, but never really with depression….until recently that is. Very recently in fact. I woke up this morning and there was my first email from DogFur and Dandelions sitting in my inbox. I am struggling through a dark place right now and I don’t think it is a coincedence that I stumbled across your website yesterday. I needed to hear this today! Thank you so much!!

  2. I love the Psalms for the same reason, Elizabeth. David is so real, you know?! I have wrote out that whole chapter from Psalms for myself and for Brian before. Encouraging.

  3. Sheila H says:

    I do find this helpful. As an older woman, I have struggled repeatedly with depression. As a more recent Christian, I have found a new purpose and yet the ugly darkness returns from time to time. In the past I have skimmed over the Psalms as I tend to not “get” poetry. Who knew I was skimming such important words!

  4. Dee Mac says:

    Thank you so much for your recent blog, I am battling dark places at the moment & your blog was just another reminder that God is with us in the midst of it. Unfortunately when you are in that dark place your head can remind you of all God’s promises, but your heart sometimes is too sad to listen. But thank you so much for the timely reminder.

    • So glad to hear this post was an encouragement to you!

      And you’re right. It is a lot easier sometimes to listen to our feelings, than to believe the truths of God’s Word. But isn’t it wonderful to know those things are always true, no matter how we feel about them? Because God never changes, and His Word never changes.

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