In equipping yourself to overcome depression, spend time reading about “dark places” in the Bible. So many things happen in what seems to be a spiritual night. Nothing is easy. As I’ve noted in two earlier posts surviving and finding God in your dark place isn’t easy. There are no pat answers. Any who offer such answers don’t know what they are talking about.
Guiding an Unwanted Journey
In seasons of depression, well-meaning people offer advice like, “Pray your way through it,” or the more frustrating, “What is wrong with you? You have a wonderful life – give God praise!”
At one time, I gave similar suggestions; a man presenting travel directions to a place I’d never been. Having been traveled to the dark place, I can now provide a better travel guide. In earlier posts, I’ve mentioned things that helped me survive my dark place . . .
(1) Praying the Psalms aloud.
(2) Doing what God called me to do.
(3) Involvement with people.
Become more aware of the presence of Christ’s spirit.
Jesus’ favorite descriptive word for His presence in us was paraclete – “one called alongside.” He has not left you, when you feel weary and overwhelmed. He is there, know it . . . believe it! This is faith at work. It does not take faith to endure when you can feel His presence. Engrave His words on your mind, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” Recently, I’ve found myself muttering to myself, “I am not alone in this!” Being mindful of His presence matters.
Elders and advisors bring perspective. If there are spiritual issues in your life, meet with your pastor. In some instances he may suggest an approved counselor or a visit to your physician. Depression may actually be physical – the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. Mature people seek help when it is needed.
None of what I’ve offered makes the dark place easier; rather it is a lesson in survival. One gets to wondering where God is. I’ve done some inner shouting, “Where are you, God? It’s dark down here.”
That being said, I’ve discovered that dark places are the making of life. A potter does not see his clay take on rich shades of silver, or red, or yellow, until after the darkness and the burning of the furnace. A color is birthed in the dark heat of a gloomy kiln.
Think . . . even in the Dark Place
Oh, remember the 143rd Psalm, “. . . the enemy hath . . . smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, . . . Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me . . ..” These words are David’s personal response to his honest feelings, “I remember the days of old; I meditate (the word David used here means to murmur or to talk to oneself) on all thy works; I muse (ponder) on the work of thy hands. I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land.” (Psalms 143:5-6)
In his dark place, David saturated his thoughts and conversation with remembering and discussing God’s works. He also focused his desires; reaching out for God as a longing child and thirsting after him as a dry land seeking water. My practical observations about finding God in the dark place are a way to carry out what David describes in poem.
A final observation . . . a dark season does not indicate one is carnal, backslidden or unspiritual. Let the psalmist affirm this truth as well:
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; . . .. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. (Psalm 139:8-12)
Come on now . . . survive and then thrive – God does not see you as failed; to God the darkness and light are both alike.